Compared with East Asia regional cooperation of great concern to the people, the suggestion on China-Japan-India strategic cooperation cannot but be regarded as a new thinking in which consideration is given to regional cooperation and to the broadening of space for cooperation in a diversified and alternating way.
According to an article on International Herald Leader, Japanese Ambassador to India Yasukuni Enoki recently said in New Delhi to media that a China-Japan-India trilateral axis is conducive to regional stability and prosperity. He revealed that India and Japan had conducted informal discussions on the subject but the aforesaid suggestion had not been formally put to China. Then, how big is the possibility for realizing a strategic cooperation among the three countries?
The Possibility of strategic economic cooperation
China, Japan and India are all big countries each with a population exceeding a hundred million. Their GDPs are $1.4 trillion, $4.3 trillion and $0.5 trillion respectively. India's GDP, calculated according to purchasing power parity (PPP), is next only to Japan and China in Asia. For this reason the three countries can be called the three "Giants" in Asia. If the three giants can strengthen their strategic cooperation, it is not only conducive to their own development but also to the rejuvenation of Asia.
Viewed from its economic and technological development stage and level, basic realization of industrialization is one of the main tasks facing China in the first 20 years of this century. In the meantime, it is necessary to blaze a trail for new-type industrialization by persisting in propelling industrialization through informationization and promoting informationization through industrialization. Japan has achieved industrialization and led the world in many important industrial fields and informationization. India has remarkable advantages in the area of software industry and the conditions for developing manufacturing industry in a big way by utilizing its low-cost labor force. However the development of manufacturing industry in China and India is apparently at different levels.
The total GDP of China, Japan and India tops $6 trillion, accounting for around 20 percent of the world total GDP. The per-capita GDPs of the three countries are quite different, which means China, Japan and India will constitute the largest multi-level market in the world. China and India are much larger than Japan in terms of population and territory whilst Japan is a populous island country. Japan has a labor force of higher quality than those of China and India. But the problem of a small and ageing population is very prominent. The quality of labor force in China is generally higher than that of India, but China also will face the problem of ageing population in the not distant future. The population structure of India is relatively young. It is estimated that the population aged between 15 and 59 will make up 47 percent (35 percent for now) of the total population by 2020. By then India will be a country with the largest working population and the biggest number of consumers in the world. This may become a very important reason for the possibility of India's economy to maintain a fairly fast growth in the future as well as a vital factor that gives rise to economic complementarity among China, Japan and India in the sense of time- coordinates.
China and Japan are neighboring countries separated by a narrow strip of water. China and India are neighbors facing each other across mountains. Although Japan and India are relatively far away from each other, they have very convenient transportation, because India is located in the middle section of the sea route that makes frequent contacts possible. The economic exchange among China, Japan and India has the obvious advantage of favorable geographical position.
The above analysis shows that the three countries have very great potential for economic cooperation. Japan's advantages in capital and technology are of great importance to the development of China and India. However, compared with Sino-Japanese trade volume of more than $130 billion in 2003, the volume of trade between China and India was only $7.6 billion in the same year. The room for the development of Sino-Indian trade is still enormous.
In terms of informationization China, Japan and S. Korea have started active exchange and cooperation in the areas of Linux, IPV6 technology and its standardization and 4G mobile communications. In the future, it's worth considering that India, an internationally recognized information industry giant, should be drawn in and information cooperation among China, Japan and the ROK should be widened to cover India and thus make the three-nation cooperation into four-nation cooperation.
The possibility of political and security strategic cooperation
Currently, the relations among China, Japan and India, that is, the Sino-Japanese, Sino-Indian and Japanese-Indian relations, are generally good. Admittedly there are some problems and frictions, which exactly indicate that the three countries should seek for a new transcending platform to improve their respective bilateral relations through developing multilateral cooperation.
As early as 1937 Indian leader Nehru said: "India and China are both countries with vast territories, yet the problems they are facing are even bigger than their territories. The problems of the two countries are, without exception, the No.1 problems in the world. How India and China will eventually develop themselves is of vital importance to the whole world. Therefore we should enhance our mutual understanding because we will both have lots of things to decide on in the future.
Traffic security at sea will become an outstanding question in China-Japan-India strategic cooperation. It is already an established fact that China and Japan depend heavily on Mid-east for oil. The Indian Ocean is a conveyor connecting the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean for the traffic and transportation of oil. It has been agreed by many Western strategists in history that "five keys lock up the world", among which the Indian Ocean gets hold of three - the Suez Canal, the Malacca Strait and the Cape of Good Hope. India projects out into more than 1,600 kilometers of the Indian Ocean occupying an important strategic guarding position of the Indian Ocean. While appropriately handling relations with the United States, whether China, Japan and India can avoid the "all-lose" situation of being on the alert and taking precautions against and even getting into conflicts with one another with regard to maritime traffic security, and whether they can join hands to deal with non-traditional security threats such as terrorism and pirates rampancy involve a major strategic choice.
Among China, Japan and India there shouldn't be the kind of thinking of "pulling another over to one's side so as to contain the other" or joining hands with a superpower in regions outside Asia to contain or even encircle one of the three countries. China, Japan and India each lay great emphasis on the importance of relations with the United States In the meantime they should attach great importance to the mutual relations with one another rather than letting oneself become a pawn of a superpower outside Asia in containing one of the countries within the region. This is of particular importance in the case of Japan-US military alliance that shouldn't have the intent of targeting China. China, Japan and India each pay attention to developing relations with ASEAN; all want to establish a free trade area with ASEAN. In dealing with the relations with ASEAN, the three countries should build up a virtuous and healthy competitive relations while at the same time enhance and strengthen their sense of urgency in cooperation among China, Japan and India.
China and India are both countries with ancient civilizations. China, Japan and India should strengthen their ideological and sentimental connections by promoting oriental cultures; particularly they should strengthen the harmony of relationship by developing the Great Harmony idea; and jointly pursue the grand realm of sustainable development by carrying forward the oriental idea of the "Integration of Man and Nature
This is a translation by People's Daily Online of an article by Feng Zhaokui, research fellow at Japan Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences