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Ajai Vir asked: The recent visit of the Japanese prime minister to India was viewed as part of ongoing efforts for containment of China. In principle, why should any country need to contain another?

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  • R.N. Das replies: It is true that India’s relations with Japan have undergone a significant transformation in recent years, with the signing of ‘India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership’ in December 2006. In October last year, the two countries signed the joint document, ‘Vision for India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership in Next Decade.’ The India-Japan-US trilateral took place in the US in December. All these, however, should not mean to suggest a containment strategy, though there has been such a perception in some sections of the strategic community both in India and elsewhere.

    Prime Minister Mammohan Singh, time and again, has asserted that the India-Japan strategic and secureity cooperation is not aimed at any third country, least of all China. India has neither the inclination, nor the capability or for that matter any need to contain China. The two countries are carefully engaging each other to overcome the trust deficit. For example, in spite of the spat over ONGC Videsh’s foray into the South China Sea, the postponement of the talks between the special representatives, and the latest episode of alleged ill-treatment meted out to the Indian diplomat in Shanghai, the two countries have handled the issues very deftly. Prime Minister Singh’s recent statement in Bhubaneswar that China is well ahead of India in terms of research and development in the field of science and technology, and External Affairs Minister Krishna’s appreciation for Beijing’s handling of the issue of Indian traders held captive in Yiwu near Shanghai by the local authorities, clearly suggests that India is serious about engaging China. There should not be any zero-sum game between the two countries.