Singapore: Describing ties between India and China as multifaceted and complex, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar on Tuesday said that both sides should not allow their differences to become disputes, and cautioned that the debate over the rise of these two powers should not be skewed.
Delivering a lecture to mark the 25th anniversary of India-ASEAN relationship in Singapore, Jaishankar noted that the complexity inherent in the simultaneous rise of two major powers, that too in close proximity of each other, has sparked off a big debate about the opportunities and risks that arise from such developments.
He also cautioned that skewing the analysis of this debate in the direction of one could mislead at the expense of the other.
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“In this changing landscape, few would dispute that the evolving India-China relationship has a direct implication for ASEAN, globally,” the Foreign Secretary added.
He further acknowledged all problems between the two nations have not been resolved and predicting that new ones would not arise in the course of time was at best a risky proposition.
“Reducing it (issues between the two countries) to black and white argumentation cannot be a serious proposition,” he said.
His statement assumes significance in the backdrop of the ongoing standoff between India and China in Doklam near Sikkim.
Highlighting major points of dissent between two sides, Jaishankar said, “Differences on issues like terrorism, nuclear energy access and connectivity initiatives have acquired some prominence recently,” and added, “India has an alarming trade deficit which in our view emanates from obstacles to market excess in China. Negotiations on the long standing boundary dispute also still continue.”
He emphasized that both countries must approach each other with strategic maturity as was shown by their leaders (President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi) at their meeting on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
“Last month when leaders of two countries met in Astana, they reached consensus on two points -one at a time of global uncertainty India-China relations are factor of stability and two, in their relationship, India and China must not allow differences to become disputes,” said Jaishankar.
In the lecture, he also highlighted how there has been a paradigm shift in strategic approaches of world powers saying, “United States is in the process of redefining its strategic posture and not just in South East Asia, China’s dramatic rise has repercussions that are still being evaluated, perhaps by China itself. Russia and U.K have re-prioritized their security interest, Japan seems to be displaying renewed interest and energies, ASEAN has itself expanded.”