Indo-China relations are going through an “extremely difficult phase” due to Beijing’s actions on the border and it will be difficult to have an Asian century if the two countries do not come closer together, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday. .

Jaishankar also defended India’s decision to buy Russian oil and the country’s engagement with the Burmese junta after last year’s coup in the face of what he described as a “double weight”. two measures” and criticism from afar that ignored India’s priorities.

During an interaction at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, he said China-India relations largely depended on the two sides’ ability to harmonize their interests, and recalled Chinese leader Deng’s remarks. Xiaoping that an Asian century will occur when India and China come together. .

“But the Asian century will be difficult to achieve if India and China do not unite. And one of the big questions today is where India-China relations are going,” he said.

“Because right now the relationship is going through an extremely difficult phase because of what the Chinese have been doing for the past two years in our border areas,” he said, referring to the military stalemate in the Ladakh sector of the present line. control (LAC) that the Indian side has attributed to China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo.

Jaishankar’s remarks contrasted sharply with claims by Chinese leaders of a “momentum of recovery” in relations when the foreign minister met with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month. Jaishankar has also repeatedly said in recent months that the overall relationship cannot be normalized without peace and tranquility in the border areas.

Responding to a question about India’s decision to buy Russian oil despite criticism from other countries, Jaishankar said there were different “judgment lines” and even sometimes “double standards” on this. question.

“We are not the only oil importer and…there are no oil sanctions,” he said, adding that other countries and regions were “very clear” on this issue. but took care of their own interests.

“I think it is reasonable that we too should be allowed to take care of our interests, especially because we are a low-income society. For us, the increase in energy prices has really hurt,” he said.

India, the third-largest energy consumer, has bought Russian crude at a discount in recent months. Jaishankar said on Wednesday India’s actions were aimed at securing the best possible deal for its citizens amid high energy prices and shortages.

“When people talk about what we should or shouldn’t do, we pay the price for that conflict in a very, very existential way,” he told the university audience. India’s concerns over energy costs, inflation and food shortages are shared by many countries in Asia and Africa, he said.

“It is simply not fair for people struggling to lift themselves out of poverty to expect to bear burdens while countries with much higher per capita incomes have found ways to soften the blow they suffer themselves,” he added.

India’s shares, he argued, have also helped bring more oil to market and lower energy prices.

India, Jaishankar said, has been clear and unambiguous that the only way out of the Ukrainian conflict is to return to dialogue and diplomacy. “At some point, the protagonists have to sit down and talk,” he said, adding that Indian leaders had conveyed this position to both Russia and Ukraine.

“The sooner you speak, the less bloodshed there will be,” he said, noting that despite India’s efforts in this regard, an appeal will ultimately have to be made by the countries concerned.

Meanwhile, India has supported the efforts of the UN Secretary General and Turkey to facilitate wheat exports from Ukraine and will continue to support all efforts aimed at ending the conflict, he said. he declares.

Asked whether India’s engagement with Myanmar’s junta was weakening Asean’s efforts to restore democracy, Jaishankar said it was important to take into account the context and background and status of the country. India as its immediate land neighbour.

India has always supported democracy, pluralism, human rights and progress in the region, and this trend in Myanmar dates back to the 1950s and even earlier, he said. India’s understanding, interests and empathy “are very different from what people far away convey when they often pontificate on very different topics”, he added.

Such a relationship “should not be touched by politics [and] interests of the day,” he said, referring to India’s concerns in border areas such as insurgent groups, organized crime and even the spread of Covid-19.

“We also have to deal with our border relationship and the complexities of being a neighbor,” he said. Despite the engagement with the junta, India believes that Myanmar is “best served by being a democracy, reflecting the feelings and wishes of its people”, he added.

In his speech at the event, Jaishankar said India envisions a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific based on rules-based order, transparent infrastructure investments, freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, mutual exchanges, respect for sovereignty and the peaceful settlement of disputes.


    Rezaul H Laskar is Foreign Affairs Editor at the Hindustan Times. His interests include cinema and music.
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