With Fiery Statements Like ‘China Illegally Occupied Indian Territory’, Here’s New India’s Diplomacy Under Jaishankar
India’s diplomacy under diplomat-turned-foreign minister S Jaishankar has become agile and characteristically bold.
Traditionally, India is not known for making powerful statements with regards to situation in the Kashmir and despite the circumstances which necessitate use of force, the Indian government has always couched itself in normative language. India has tried to project itself as a nation with moral force, drawing on the legacy of the likes of Aurobindo Ghosh and other national movement stalwarts.
However, the recent chaos in international politics, with an isolationist America under Trump, a muscular and revanchist China and its satellite-state terror-exporting Pakistan have necessitated display of strength on the part of India to protect own interest.
This was on display in conducting surgical strikes across the LoC to destroy a terrorist camp, the swift response of Indian Army to Chinese incursions in the Doklam plateau as well as abrogation of Article 370.
Here are four statements by diplomats under S Jaishankar-led Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that show India is willing to give it back to those who try to harm its core interests.
“PoK is part of India and one day we will have physical jurisdiction over it"
While addressing a press conference on the 100 days of the new government in September, S Jaishankar said, “Our position on PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) has always been and will always be very clear. PoK is part of India and we expect one day that we will have the physical jurisdiction over it."
While addressing the issue of talks between the two countries Jaishankar stated that, "Part of the problem is that Pakistan is only doing talking. It has not been doing anything other than this.”
“They think that nice words are an answer to the real problem, and the real problem is the dismantlement of this industry (Islamist terrorism) that they have created”, he added.
“Bear in mind the friendly relations between us and desist from making such remarks”
It was but a feat for Indian diplomacy, and matter of shame for China that no other country came out support of them against India on the Kashmir issue apart from Malaysia and Turkey.
In response to Malaysian president Mahathir Mohammad’s statement that despite the UN resolution on Jammu and Kashmir, the country has been invaded and occupied, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "Jammu and Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession like all other princely states, Pakistan invaded and illegally occupied parts of J-K.”
Kumar further told the government of Malaysia to “bear in mind the friendly relations between the two countries and desist from making such remarks”.
India buys more palm oil from Malaysia than China and Pakistan put together. Indian importers took the statement as a cue that the government might retaliate with import duties, and the Malaysian Palm oil market took a hit.
Post Kumar’s statement, the crude palm prices in Malaysia dropped to the lowest since 3 October to $518 a tonne.
“Get a proper understanding of the situation on the ground before making statements"
Turkey's Erdogan had, in his address, said that despite the UN resolutions "eight million people are stuck" in Kashmir.
On Turkey, Kumar said, "We call upon the Turkish government to get a proper understanding of the situation on the ground before they make any further statements on this issue. It is a matter which is completely internal to India."
The statement was followed by an advisory issued by the Government of India, asking its citizens to exercise utmost caution to Indian tourists visiting Turkey. This holds significance in light of the fact that tourists from India had seen a 56 per cent increase this year.
Just three days after Erdogan’s speech Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to be sending a clear message of “if you can, we can as well”, when he met the leaders of Cyprus and Armenia.
Reportedly, India is now also cutting down its defence exports to Turkey which includes equipment like explosives and detonators and Turkey’s M/s Anadolu Shipyard may lose out on a $2.3 billion project to supply fleet support ships (FSS) to the Indian Navy.
India also released a strong statement denouncing Turkey’s offensive against Syrian Kurds.
“China has illegally acquired Indian territories”
A recent statement by MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar has openly called out China’s bluff on Kashmir. China sides with Pakistan and poses as a neutral mediator while the country itself has illegally occupied vast tracts of lands in erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir - in Aksai Chin as well as the territory transferred to it by the Pakistan under China-Pakistan boundary agreement of 1963.
“We expect other countries to respect India's sovereignty and territorial integrity.China continues to be in occupation of a large tract of area in union territories of Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh. It has illegally acquired Indian territories from PoK under so called China-Pakistan boundary agreement of 1963,” he said.
India’s approach towards China and the boundary questions has remained rather passive. It is important to note that China has come to have a border with India only through illegal occupations of territories.
China’s Tibet occupation not only brought India to have border with China, but also gave the authoritarian state a control over several trans-boundary rivers. In fact, most of the rivers that China controls are because of its occupation of Xinjiang and Tibet - both states posing challenge to Chinese Communist state.
Post independence, while India was living in false dreams of Asian unity, China pursued territorial expansion furiously. The betrayal of China and the 1962 war is very much alive in the memories of Indians.
Despite India’s several good-will gestures including supporting China’s market economy status, and “One China” policy, China has never responding in kind. Instead, it continues to bolster Pakistan and its anti-India machinations.
By his statement, Kumar has hinted a paradigm shift in India’s stance. India is expecting a quid pro quo from China on vital interests. It has hinted that if China doesn’t respect India’s vital interests, the country will not shy away from raising issues sensitive to China and its ‘illegal occupations’.
While the national power gap between India and China is gigantic, latter cannot ignore India's threat.
Facing a crisis in Hong Kong, a trade-war with United States, international pressure against terror emanating from Pakistan, and a slowing economy, China may come to realise the costs of antagonising its civilisational friend India.
On the other hand, for its threats to be substantive, India will have to work hard to bride the power gap between the two Asian giants, all the while keeping extended the hand of friendship and cooperation.
India also needs to improve its ability to publicise its view point in the global media, historically a weak point of Indian diplomacy. This weakness was reflected in extremely biased coverage on the abrogation of Article 370, wherein important historical facts, the reality of territories occupied by China and Pakistan were completely ignored.
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