Benny Peiser / 23.08.2007 / 11:47 / 0 / Seite ausdrucken

The Battle for the Soul of Asia

Seven years after Bill Clinton spoke in Parliament to a tumultuous reception, it was the turn of another overseas head of state, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to address a joint session of Parliament during which he set out his vision of a “Broader Asia” with India as a prominent participant.

Speaking in the Central Hall of Parliament on Wednesday, Mr. Abe called on India to contribute to the concept’s success by aligning more closely with Japan on a range of issues.

In pursuit of the “Broader Asia” concept, Japan is promoting several other concepts. One of them, in which India would be a crucial element, is building an “arc of freedom and prosperity” along the outer rim of the Euroasian continent. Freedom, democracy and the respect for basic human rights would be the common fundamental values of all participating countries. Mr. Abe’s close aide had said on Tuesday that China needed to work more on the democracy and human rights fronts.

In case Japan and India come together in a strategic relationship, Mr. Abe felt the “Broader Asia” concept would then span the entire Pacific Ocean along with two non-Asian entities, U.S. and Australia.

In addition, India and Japan must join forces with “like-minded countries” to ensure the security of sea-lanes through which most of the world’s trade in oil passes. His reiteration of the idea comes a fortnight before five countries — India, the U.S., Australia, Singapore and Japan — will hold the biggest-ever naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal.

Und Chinas Reaktion:

Abe’s idea of an alliance of democracies between Japan, India, the US and Australia is not conducive to peace and stability in the region as it could divide Asia by ideology, Chinese analysts warned yesterday.

To preach of a quadripartite alliance resurrects a Cold-War mentality and is designed to deliberately divide Asia, said Hu Shisheng, an expert in South Asia studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

“Japan’s intention is obvious. It aims to counterbalance the rising influence of China in the region,” Hu said.

Echoing Hu, Sun Shihai, a researcher of South Asian affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the so-called democratic alliance is not good for Asia.

“Any attempts to make China a rival or contain China will not work,” Sun said.

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