India will pursue own interests in Indo-Pacific: Indian Envoy in Beijing
The US has conducted a series of “freedom of navigation” exercises in the disputed South China Sea, triggering protests from Beijing over what it says is infringement of sovereignty.Updated: Nov 16, 2018 15:57 IST
India will have its own interests in mind while negotiating the tricky waters of geopolitical rivalry between China and the US in the Indo-Pacific region, India’s outgoing envoy Gautam Bambawale has said.
As part of the “Quad” bloc along with the US, Japan, and Australia, India is often seen – especially by Beijing – as Washington’s tool to counter China’s increasing influence in the region comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean.
Bambawale countered that argument in an interview to the state-run television network, China Global Television Network.
“The only side India is on is India’s own side. In other words, our foreign policy and all our policies are geared towards meeting India’s interests and India’s national interests,” he said.
Bambawale was responding to the question whether India would take sides in the Indo-Pacific power politics.
“We have improved our relations with big countries and small countries because we believe that we can obtain and gain from each of these countries. We try to obtain it from any country which is willing to help us,” he said.
“So, we have managed to keep excellent relations not only with China and Russia and Japan but also completely changed our relationship with the United States. We changed our relationship with the United States. We will do whatever in India’s best interests,” he added.
Elaborating on the current status of Chinese-India ties, the envoy said the “informal” Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping had removed several “misconceptions” between the two neighbouring countries.
During the summit in April, the two leaders had interacted for over 10 hours, which was characterised as a strategic communication by both sides, he said.
“Both leaders were very keen to have this kind of (informal) meeting. The reason why we did an informal summit was that we wanted the two leaders to talk to each other for the maximum amount of time,” he said.
“We removed several misconceptions may have about each other. I think a lot of things bring India and China can do together. There are only a few things where we differ with each other,” Bambawale said.
He said both countries are beneficiaries of multilateralism and India is a votary for globalisation like China.
“India and China have similar viewpoints on global issues. We both want to have an open system where the multilateral system works,” he said.
He said the issue that divides the two countries is the unresolved boundary question.
“But even as we work for the resolution of the boundary problem between us, we have agreed that we will maintain peace and tranquillity at our borders and for the last 30 years we have succeeded in that,” he said.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488 km long Line of Actual Control (LAC). China claims Arunachal Pradesh as southern Tibet and India asserts that the dispute covered Aksai Chin area which was occupied by China during the 1962 war.
Bambawale will retire later this month and succeeded by India’s current ambassador to Myanmar Vikram Misri.