India's Look East policy should not mean "encircle China": People's Daily



India`s Look East policy should not mean Beijing: Ahead of the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao in Hanoi, state-run Peoples Daily has suggested that India was trying to "encircle China" with its "Look East" policy of befriending Japan and ASEAN countries.

India's "Look East policy" should not mean a policy to "encircle China" and India should "listen" to Beijing's "expression" before joining any anti-China alliance with Japan, said a write-up in the newspaper.

"Singh's visit to Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam has been a media hype at home, being even described as a missionary trip to seek new strategic allies to deal with China," it said asking whether India's "Look East Policy" means "Look to encircle China".

India however dismissed any apprehensions in Beijing about it forging closer ties with Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam to encircle China, saying these were stand-alone bilateral relations not predicated on any other country.

"Our relations exist in their own right. These are not predicated on any third country," Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry Latha Reddy, who is accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam, told reporters.

"We have valid bilateral relations with each of these countries and these are not predicated by ties with any other country," Reddy said.

She underlined that India's 'Look East Policy' was not new but as old as 1950s. "The savvy Indian leadership will never rashly board the ship of Japan without giving a glance at China's expression.

After all, it is not Japan, but China that acts as India's largest trade partner with the overall volume in 2010 to exceed US$ 60 billion", the People's Daily said.

"Although its (India's) hawks are so intoxicated at the idea that India finally regains the momentum to counteract China's rising regional clout, with the " Look East Policy" as its guiding principle, encouraged by its leaders' sound relationship with ASEAN nations, and by taking advantage of the face-off between China and Japan, India still cannot relax its spasm of worries about China, nor can it brush aside the fear that China might nip its ambitions in the bud, it said.

"As for Japan, whose relations with China have frosted over amid the diplomatic d'tente over the East China Sea, India, with a large consumer base, exudes a magnetic appeal to the presently sluggish economic power", it said.

"On top of that, India is viewed by Japan as an ideal partner to establish the strategic cooperation in security, based on the assumption that both of them are being threatened by China's military assertiveness in East China Sea as well as in the Indian Ocean. On this basis, Japan and India have both placed high expectations upon each other in combining strengths to counterbalance China", it said.

PTI