New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar Thursday said he knows Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi well, and that’s why both of them can have a “reasonable chat” when they meet next week, amid rising tensions between the countries at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.
He also stressed that the solution to the current stand-off is through diplomacy.
“We have known each other for a long time… I am totally convinced that the solution to the (LAC) situation has to be found in the domain of the diplomacy and I say that with responsibility,” he said during a virtual discussion on his book, The India Way: Strategies For An Uncertain World, organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
Jaishankar and Wang are going to come face to face at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers’ meeting in Moscow on 10 September. They will also meet virtually this Friday for the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting.
“I am not underplaying the seriousness of the current situation or the challenges of the boundary question. I am making the point that it is imperative for both countries to reach an accommodation, not just for them(selves)… the world has a lot riding on it. I am also conscious we do have a situation in the border areas of the western sector (of the LAC),” Jaishankar said.
The diplomat-turned-politician highlighted that he had written the book before the Galwan Valley clash with the Chinese PLA that killed 20 Indian soldiers on 15 June, and said neither party should attempt to change the status quo unilaterally.
“We have agreements and understanding with China. They must be scrupulously observed by both parties… The answer has to come from them,” he said.
Talking about the India-China relationship, Jaishankar, India’s former ambassador to Beijing, said both countries have a history that was “good in many parts, very indifferent in some parts and very difficult in some parts”.
“The problem is the more difficult parts are more recent,” he said, adding that “right now is not the easiest time in the relationship”.
A ‘curious’ world
Jaishankar spoke about the fact that India is part of groupings that include China as well as the US—SCO, BRICS, the Quad and JAI (Japan-India-America), remarking “it’s a curious world”.
“It’s a world where you have relations with different parties. Sometimes, they may not always be on the same page or have same interests. But if you are really looking at a multipolar world, you are talking convergences, and you visualise that a lot of your understandings with people are on issues, then you will have different combinations. This is a world we all need to understand, and not make it a zero-sum game,” the minister said.
India is likely to host the next ministerial round of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (better known as the Quad), which also includes the US, Japan and Australia. Jaishankar said the date and venue of the meeting is yet to be confirmed.
According to the minister, the US’ “changed approach” in the way it conducts its foreign policy has come as one of the as one of the most “startling and impactful shifts” in recent memory for him.
“The US is one of the key fulcrums around which international affairs revolved. If they change their position, they change their approach, then it has big resonance… The US has shifted its views and assessment of its alliances in many ways,” he said.
On the rapidly changing US-China bilateral relationship, Jaishankar said: “There are changes out there, we must not be oblivious to that.
“Strategic autonomy should not be confused with strategic ambiguity… Don’t be strategically complacent. The world is changing, there will be more opportunities and more risks, the possibility of risk is more.”
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