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China and its neighbors
Shinzo Abe and Narendra Modi: Friends ’Til the End

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been a fan of Narendra Modi (and vice versa) since before the latter’s election, and now that Modi has assumed power, they are working to strengthen diplomatic ties between the two nations. In a conference beginning on August 30th, Abe and Modi met in Kyoto to take several big steps toward closer cooperation on matters like defense and nuclear energy, all while enjoying casual dinners, greeting one another with bear hugs, and taking to Twitter to express their mutual admiration. They also chided mutual geopolitical opponent China for, among other things, its expansionist policies and increasingly provocative behavior. The Washington Post reports:

On Monday, [Modi] took a dig at China while on Japanese soil, without quite mentioning China.

He said there are two streams in this world: one is the path of expansionism and the other is of development.

“Today we are seeing all around us the 18th-century-style expansionist attitudes like encroaching some country and occupying it, intruding into the seas. That’s the mentality,” Modi said at a luncheon meeting with Japanese business leaders, in a veiled reference to China’s growing territorial claims in the region. “This kind of expansionism can never ensure welfare of people.”

The two Asian leaders agreed to participate in joint naval exercises, including making Indian participation in an annual Japanese-U.S. drill standard. Modi secured Japanese funding for his planned improvements of India’s railways, and the two nations took steps towards making a deal on military weapons sales, most notably sales of amphibious transport craft. The two leaders appear to have taken significant steps towards securing a nuclear deal that would put tighter controls on India’s nuclear technology while beginning a new program for Japanese-Indian cooperation on nuclear power projects.

Beijing’s aggressive pursuit of regional dominance was always bound to drive its opponents together, and these two leaders were particularly receptive to closer ties. The biggest loser in India’s elections may well have been China, and Beijing can’t be pleased to see its two strongest rivals growing ever friendlier.

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  • Thirdsyphon

    American power in most regions has an inherent ceiling, but it also tends to have an inherent floor. Regional powers like India hold the balance, because it’s not in their interest for U.S. influence over their neighborhood to become too strong or too weak. More broadly, the world isn’t interested in electing a hegemon. That includes us, but it most definitely also includes Russia and China.

    • rheddles

      The world may not be interested in hegemons, but hegemons are interested in the world. As they go, the United States has been a fairly benign one. They’ll continue to vote for us as the alternative candidates are far less attractive.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Chinese belligerence and outrageous territorial demands are the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a shame that the weak and stupid Obama can’t cease the opportunity to negotiate a favorable economic and military alliance that would benefit all those being threatened by China. If there was ever something that could be called “low hanging fruit” this is it.

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