- BEIJING (Reuters) -- China on Tuesday threw cold water on Russia's call
for Beijing, New Delhi and Moscow to forge a strategic triangle aimed
at countering U.S. influence in the global arena.
- "China pursues an independent foreign
policy of peace," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao (pictured)
said in reaction to comments by Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov
in New Delhi.
- Primakov, visiting India to shore up
ties between the two traditional allies, told his hosts on Monday the
three countries should team up to ensure regional and geo-political stability.
- The "strategic triangle" would
also seek to build on a budding Sino-Russian alliance focused on reducing
Washington's influence over global affairs, Russian analysts said.
- Primakov's call came as a surprise to
Indian and Russian diplomats in Beijing, and even China's Foreign Ministry
was caught unawares.
- After more than a day of deliberation,
Beijing said it would prefer to act alone on the global stage but added
that it was always eager to win new foreign friends.
- "China is ready to develop diplomatic
relations with all countries in the world," Zhu said.
- Beijing-based Western diplomats said
Primakov may have timed the announcement to win political clout in the
aftermath of U.S. and British air strikes on Iraq.
- India and Russia condemned the strikes
and demanded the U.S. address its grievances in the U.N. Security Council.
- China also issued a swift and vocal denunciation
of the attacks, saying the bombing set a "dangerous and odious precedent"
of unilateral U.S. action.
- "China and Russia are most concerned
the Iraq strikes could become the model for unilateral action by the U.S.
in North Korea and other hotspots," said one Russian diplomat.
- Another analyst said Primakov's idea
may have been part of a Russian push to expand its influence in the Security
- Despite the current agreement among the
three countries, mutual suspicion runs deep, especially between China and
India, which have been at odds for decades and still warily eye each other's
military ambitions in Asia.
- "The three nations simply have radically
different strategic interests," one diplomat said, ruling out any
long-term cooperation between Beijing and New Delhi.
- Indian analysts added that China was
unlikely to turn its back on long-time ally Pakistan just to boost Russian
clout in the United Nations.
- Earlier this year, China and India exchanged
harsh words after Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes described Beijing
as New Delhi's top potential threat.
- India has also taken issue with China's
alleged aid for Pakistan's nuclear program and sale of advanced missile
technology to Islamabad. ( (c) 1998 Reuters)