New Delhi: As its ties with the US deteriorate, China is reaching out to Japan and India, the countries it considers its old rivals.

Beijing''s relationship with Washington took another hit when US National Defence Authorisation Act 2020 came into effect early this week. The Act has far-reaching implications for China with clauses that support democracy and fundamental rights of people in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang - all the politically volatile regions which the Communist Party of China has been repressing as the demands for greater freedoms and autonomy amplify.

China has called this as a direct interference of the US in its domestic affairs. Slamming the Donald Trump administration, People''s Liberation Army in a statement said, the $738 billion Act "includes items that support protests in Hong Kong, improve Taiwan''s defence capabilities through extensive military exchanges and arms sales, and require the compilation of regular in-depth reports about the condition of Muslims in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region."

"It seriously violated the one-China principle as well as the three joint communiques between China and the US, and severely damaged China-US relations," People''s Liberation Army spokesperson Wu Qian said on Thursday.

Interestingly, while the relationship with the US is on a downward spiral, President Xi Jinping has tasked his closest aide and Vice President, Wang Qishan, to improve Beijing''s relations with its old rival Tokyo. On December 16, Wang Qishan met with former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and other former politicians and diplomats of Japan.

"China''s growth is inseparable from a good international environment, and China''s development is also beneficial to the world. The Chinese government has all along attached great importance to non-governmental diplomacy. As the current international situation is constantly changing, the importance of building a solid foundation of people-to-people friendship has become more prominent," he told the Japanese delegation.

On the other hand, People''s Liberation Army on Thursday bragged that its ties with the Indian military are "improving" with the strategic dialogue, practical cooperation and exchanges, because of the efforts made by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "For the China-India relations, military relationship is the important component of the overall relationship," China''s defence spokesman Col Wu told media on Thursday.

Following the 73-day standoff between the two armies at Doklam in 2017, the military ties were an important agenda during the Xi-Modi informal summits last year in Wuhan and this year in Chennai. Except for the 1962 war and a few other occasions, the two militaries along the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control between India and China, have been largely peaceful.

China just concluded joint counter terrorism drills in India. Defence spokesman Col Wu Qian said that it "showed the determination" of the two sides to protect the regional stability besides fighting terrorism.

Interestingly, China has been an ally of Pakistan over the Kashmir issue and prevented India''s bids at the United Nations to ban Pakistani terror groups and their chiefs, several times. Following the revocation of special status of Jammu & Kashmir by New Delhi, China sought a private discussion at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). However, of late, China''s attempts to censure India on behalf of Pakistan at the UN, have failed. Beijing''s request to hold another private discussion on Kashmir at UNSC was declined last week.

Interestingly, China, Russia and Iran will hold a joint naval exercise from December 27 to 30 in the Gulf of Oman. The Chinese navy will send the Xining, a guided-missile destroyer, to the joint exercise, "aimed at deepening exchanges and cooperation among the navies of the three countries."