CHINESE FIND INDIA A POTENTIAL PARTNER UNLIKE JAPAN
The Economic Times, May 5, 2013
The past 12 months have seen China getting directly involved in potentially explosive situations such as Ladakh or the Diaoyu Islands. It almost seems as if, as China rises, it is starting to flex its muscles and shift away from the more non-confrontational approach it has used in the past decade towards more direct military confrontation. However, appearances can be deceiving. These two situations, seen from the point of view of Chinese citizens, are extremely different from each other.
The recent conflict surrounding the Diaoyu Islands is born from the trauma China endured under Japanese occupation during the World War II. To this day, the relationship with Japan remains extremely tense, particularly due to what is perceived as continuing provocation, such as Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's yearly visit to the Yasukuni shrine where Class A, B and C war criminals are enshrined. As a consequence, any geopolitical conflict with Japan usually arouses very strong reactions from the population, often demanding immediate retribution and forcing the government into taking a hard stance.
PARTNERS NOT FOES
The Ladakh conflict, however, is seen as very different. Very few Chinese citizens feel there are tensions between India and China, to the extent that awareness of this incident is extremely low. Furthermore, the strategic importance of the Ladakh region or other border areas such as NEFA seems far lower than the Diaoyu Islands. They do not fit into China's plan for Tibet, and the massive, forbidding heights of the Himalayas make the regions difficult to access and develop.
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