China Nixes Strategic Triangle
with Russia And India

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 Council.
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)