Abe visits China; Modi visits Japan – mercurial Trump is reshaping international politics
Tokyo, Oct 29: International relations are at unique crossroads at the moment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Japan on Saturday, October 27, to hold a bilateral summit with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. This is the 12th time the two leaders, who are also known to be close personally, are meeting since Modi first visited the East Asian nation as the PM in September 2014.
However, Modi's latest visit comes at a unique time. Just the day he reached Japan, Abe returned from a visit to China, a country which is known for its rivalries with Japan in Asia. Just compare it with Modi's visit to Japan in 2014 when he had indirectly targeted the common enemy - China. Four years later, it looks India and Japan have a common friend in China. Just as they say that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics but only interests.
Though the Japanese media has stressed that Abe's visit to China just preceding Modi's visit to Japan did not mean that Tokyo has now become too close to Beijing, the fact is that all the Asian powers are now more in a mood to strive for friendly and peaceful relations with each other because the United States, under the leadership of President Donald Trump, has treated its friends and foes alike with tough stances - politically, diplomatically and economically - and that has necessitated a change in foreign policy orientations between all other powers.
We have already seen Modi cozying up to China earlier this year even after India and China had a diplomatic face-off in Doklam in 2017. Modi held an informal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in April where the two side tried to restore confidence back into their tense relations. In May, Modi had a similar meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, where the two vowed to work towards a multipolar world. And now, with Abe visiting China as a Japanese leader doing so after seven long years and the two sides signing over 500 business deals, one anticipates that there is a multilateral effort underway at the moment to prepare a stage in the age of Trump. In a way, it is good that the US's own aggressive measures have seen other nations getting closer though it is only coming at the expense of further isolation of Washington.
The many layers of international politics now
It is yet true that China will continue to be a concern for India and Japan, two economies in Asia that are capable of giving Beijing a competition, but their first priority at the moment is definitely not getting into an arrangement to counter China but rather develop a cooperative relationship with it for universal good.
Given the fact that China is at the receiving end of the Trump Administration's unrelenting trade war and countries like Japan and India are also facing the wrath of Washington time and again, it is always wise for the USA's allies to also keep alternative options available so that they don't find themselves in a cul-de-sac because of the mercurial administration which is in control in the White House now.