The Indo-Japanese Partnership Is “Balancing” Between the US & China
The Indian Prime Minister had very productive visit to Japan, which came at a sensitive time where both Asian Great Powers are trying to delicately “balance” between the US and China.
The two leaders agreed to a $75 billion currency swap and will begin preparing for their first-ever 2+2 talks between their Foreign and Defense Ministers, as well as exploring the possibility for joint infrastructure projects in third-party states along the Indian Ocean Rimland presumably through their “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” initiative. There were also reports in early October that they’re discussing a so-called “Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement” (ACSA), which is for all intents and purposes the same pact that India signed with the US and France to allow one another to use their military facilities on a case-by-case logistical basis, which could in theory expand the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ role in the Indian Ocean and especially its northeastern Andaman Sea while its Indian counterpart could become more active in the East China Sea.
While this summit veritably seemed to give off an anti-Chinese “containment” vibe, the reality of the matter is that both India and Japan are currently in the midst of mild rapprochements with the People’s Republic as they seek to “balance” between it and the US, albeit with uncertain success. Japanese Prime Minister Abe just got back from a landmark visit to China right before hosting his Indian counterpart which he said signaled an “historic turning point” in his country’s relations with its traditional rival. This is because the two sides agreed to 500 business deals totaling over $2,5 billion and a $30 billion currency swap, which came on the heels of India exploring the possibility of replacing newly tariffed American goods with its own in the Chinese marketplace.
As it stands, one of three scenarios will probably unfold; India and Japan can indefinitely maintain their complex “balancing” act, pivot towards the US, or pivot towards China. The first-mentioned would be a continuation of the present, while the second one would tighten the US’ “containment” ring around China. The last scenario, however, is the least likely but the most stabilizing. India and China agreed to cooperate in third-party states earlier this summer before the BRICS Summit, which could conceivably see Japan brought into this multilateral arrangement per its newfound deal with New Delhi. The possible convergence of the joint Indo-Japanese “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” with China’s New Silk Road could see these two far-reaching visions entering into a “friendly competition” with one another to the developmental benefit of “Global South” states, thereby heralding a “Renaissance”.