India dealing with worst border crisis with China with ‘firmness and maturity’:Harsh Shringla
India has dealt with the worst crisis on the border with China in decades with “firmness and maturity” even as it has worked with partners to create an open and inclusive architecture for the Indo-Pacific region, foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said on Thursday.
Speaking on the theme “India’s foreign policy in the post-Covid world” at the Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI) in Paris, Shringla said India’s actions, as it prepares for the world order emerging amid the pandemic, were not “seeking to target or exclude any country” but to create an environment in which all countries can operate with respect for the sovereignty of others.
He reiterated India’s condemnation of the recent terror attacks in France, including the one in Nice, and conveyed the solidarity of the Indian people in confronting terrorism and extremism. He also noted that one of the two recent terrorist incidents in France had its origins in Pakistan.
“Despite the pandemic, we have dealt with the worst crisis in decades on our border with China and we have done so with firmness and maturity. At the same time, we have continued to ward off terrorism from across our western border,” said Shringla, who is on a three-nation tour that will also take him to Germany and the UK.
India’s immediate challenges have not distracted the country from its broader strategic goals, especially in the Indo Pacific, where “we are moving purposefully at multiple levels to create an open, inclusive architecture”, he said.
New Delhi has a cooperative and inclusive outlook, as laid out in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s SAGAR vision or “Security And Growth for All in the Region”, and India has steadily enhanced its diplomatic and security engagement in Southeast Asia too, he said.
“With Australia, Japan and the US, there is tangible progress in realising our shared vision. We are not seeking to target or exclude any country, but create an environment that induces all countries to operate with respect for the sovereignty of others and in a manner consistent with international norms in global commons,” Shringla said against the backdrop of the military standoff with China that is set to enter its seventh month.
Noting that the pandemic has led to “geopolitical repositioning primarily by China and the US”, Shringla outlined what he said were four key outcomes of the accelerated global transition and increased geopolitical competition and tension triggered by the Covid-19 crisis.
These developments, he said, will shape the nature and terms of India’s engagement with major economies such as the US, China, the European Union, Japan and ASEAN. There is a need for greater global conversations on resilient supply chains, he added.
The practices that New Delhi perfects at home in response to the pandemic will “inevitably become exportable abroad”, and India’s thinking “about deeper global economic engagement with the world will be influenced by both geopolitical divides and pandemic pressures,” he said.
“There was already a reassessment of FTA experiences, keeping in mind the unsettling impact they have had on India’s manufacturing. The attention could now well shift to becoming part of global value chains, complemented by focused trading arrangements,” Shringla remarked.
“This would be so especially as efforts towards making India an easier location for doing business gain traction. We are conscious of the need not just to improve on our own record but to become more competitive,” he added.
Like-minded countries need to coordinate to emerge from the pandemic more resilient than before, he said, adding: “We cannot afford to let multilateralism be held hostage by great power competition. A multipolar world without an international order based on rule of law and collaboration will lead to uncertainty and turbulence.”
Turning to terrorism, Shringla said India and France face similar non-traditional security threats in the form of radicalism and cyber-security challenges. “Both India and France have suffered. The fight today is not against specific communities or individuals but against a radical politico-religious ideology that attempts to negate the progress made by secular democracies...,” he said.
“This radical ideology espouses violence and separatism, very often fanned and supported by foreign influence...It was horrifying to hear about the two recent terrorist incidents in France, one of which, as is very often the case, had its origins in our western neighbourhood – Pakistan,” Shringla said.
“For the past three decades, we have experienced what unbridled radicalism can wreak – and what malevolent violent forces it can unleash. The civilised world needs to act together and act with firmness to address this threat to our cherished democratic value systems.”