In a pointed message to Beijing, India has reminded China yet again that bilateral diplomatic and economic relations, stressed beyond measure by the continuing Ladakh standoff, will not be normalised till all outstanding issues on withdrawal of troops are resolved.
“Trade continues, there are investment ties that continue but all of this has to be examined very carefully and the government is examining all these options very, very carefully to ensure that our integrity and security remain intact,” India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at an online interaction on the theme “Bharat@75: Empowering India” organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce. Taking a big picture view of the current crisis bedevilling bilateral ties, Mr Shringla underlined that India will have to ensure it is not vulnerable in any way because of its economic and trade ties with China.
“Last year…we saw that China maintained an aggressive posture and attempted multiple transgressions along our border in eastern Ladakh. That obviously was not conducive to peace and security, and as a result, we are not able to conduct normal relations,” he said.
“Having said that, of course trade continues, import and export continues, China continues to be an economic partner. But obviously we need to today evaluate whether we are over-extended in terms of our supply chains, in terms of our investment tie-ups, in terms of the technology that we get,” he added.
All these issues need to be carefully examined to see “that it is in keeping with our larger strategic and security interests and that obviously, as we move forward, our own economy grows, our own interactions grow”, he said.
“We need to ensure that we are not vulnerable in any way. On the contrary, our growth and development can be faster and better ensured,” Mr Shringla said.
Mr Shringla’s remarks, months after India banned Chinese apps and embarked on a process of reducing dependency on Chinese supply chains in response to the killings of Indian soldiers in Ladakh, provide an insight into the government’s thinking about linking national security with economic relationship with China. These remarks also constitute a pointed rejection of China’s oft-repeated argument about delinking the border standoff with the larger economic relationship.
The rapid rise of China, both as a military and an economic power, is an issue the world is grappling with, and India is in the process of protecting its own strategic and security interests, Shringla said.
“We have had several rounds of talks with China. We have resolved some of the issues but there are still some outstanding issues and until we can resolve those issues, obviously we will not be in a normal relationship mode,” he added.
In his overarching speech on the country’s foreign policy orientation, Mr Shringla projected India as a force for global public good. “India is determined to be a force for good in the international arena. It is determined to generate solutions to global problems,” he said. “In the region, India is a net provider of security; it is a first responder; and it is a reliable development partner.”
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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