New Delhi: In the midst of growing unease in their ties, India on Wednesday asked China to respect its territorial sovereignty and said its ascent should not be seen as a threat to China’s rise.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar also criticized Pakistan for “blocking” Saarc, saying the regional grouping has become “ineffective” due to insecurity of one-member nation.
Calling terrorism the most “pervasive and serious” threat to international security, he rued lack of coherence in dealing with the menace globally, adding pressures to reform the UN so that it can deal with major challenges effectively will only grow with each passing day.
Talking about the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor ( CPEC) which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Jaishankar, addressing the Raisina Dialogue, envisioned as the country’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geo-economics, said China should respect India’s territorial sovereignty as Beijing was “very sensitive” to matters relating to its own sovereignty.
“China is a country which is very sensitive on matters concerning its sovereignty. So we would expect that they would have some understanding of other people’s sensitivity on their sovereignty,” he said, noting there was no sign of any reflection on India’s concerns over CPEC project.
The foreign secretary’s comments came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a clear message to China, said both sides should show sensitivity and respect+ for each other’s core concerns and interests.
PM Modi had on Tuesday said only by respecting the sovereignty of countries involved can regional connectivity corridors fulfil their promise and avoid “differences and discord”.
“What we are trying to do is to convince China that our rise is not harmful to China’s rise just as China’s rise need not be to India’s rise,” Jaishankar told the gathering.
Referring to Donald Trump’s election, the foreign secretary said relations between the US and Russia+ could undergo a major transformation not seen since 1945 and that its impact was hard to predict.
In this context, he said India’s relations with both the US and Russia were on an upswing and an improvement in US-Russia ties was not against Indian interests.
On overall ties with China, Jaishankar said there has been broadening of cooperation, especially in areas of business and people-to-people contacts, but these have been “overshadowed” by differences on certain political issues. He said China’s power and its expression remain a dynamic factor in Asia.
Some chill have set in China-India ties following China’s opposition to India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership as also after Beijing blocked India’s move at the UN to designate Masood Azhar a global terrorist.
On terrorism, Jaishankar said ways to deal with the threat was major focus of India’s diplomacy, adding “terror is a snake that bites the hand that feeds it.”
Talking about Saarc, Jaishankar said, “We hoped to partially remedy this (Pakistan’s obstruction) through the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) sub-regional grouping.
“It is also our expectation that the current level of enthusiasm among members of BIMSTEC can be channelled towards more far-reaching initiatives.”