Diplomacy

As they agree on army fall back, India reminds China to follow global norms

File Photo: India’s external affairs minister Dr S. Jaishankar.

By N. C. Bipindra and Amit Agnihotri

New Delhi: A day after the two nations agreed on their respective militaries falling back from the face-off in Ladakh border, India today reminded China to follow global rule of law and asked it to behave responsibility.

The Corps Commander-level talks were held at Moldo on the Chinese side yesterday for nearly 12 hours, but these were “cordial, positive and constructive,” sources in the Indian Army headquarters said.

“There was a mutual consensus to disengage. Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both the sides.”

However, it has to be verified if the border deescalation agreement is implemented fully on ground, as the previous pact between the two commanders on June 6 did not go well and resulted in the violent clash on June 15.

Interestingly, India also reminded the Asian power that its world aspirations must be matched by a commitment for time-tested principles of international relations, amidst a bitter turf war with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

The subtle message was delivered by India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr S. Jaishankar, addressing the trilateral Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting through video-conferencing. His reference was to the June 15 clashes between the troops of the two countries at Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives with reportedly over 40 casualties on the Chinese side.

The bloody clashes that have hit India-China relations, as well the border tension that preceded it since early May, was a direct result of the Chinese aggression as their People’s Liberation Army troops crossed crossed over to the Indian side of the LAC, pitched tents and built defence structures in clear violation of the five peace pacts that exist between the two countries since 1993.

Reports of PLA’s unprofessional conduct, as it engaged with the Indian troops, and China’s recent false claim over the crucial Galwan Valley has only added to an environment of distrust between the two nations that India is trying to resolve peacefully.

After Jaishankar warned his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on June 17 saying China’s unfounded aggression violated the bilateral peace agreements and could severely impact relations between the two countries, India was a bit reluctant in joining the RIC meeting but did so at the insistence of Russia, a long-term ally.

“This Special Meeting reiterates our belief in the time-tested principles of international relations. But the challenge today is not just one of concepts and norms, but equally of their practice,” the Indian external affairs minister said.

“The leading voices of the world must be exemplars in every way. Respecting international law, recognizing the legitimate interests of partners, supporting multilateralism and promoting common good are the only way of building a durable world order,” he said at the RIC meeting.

The special RIC foreign ministers meeting was convened to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the conclusion of the World War II, as well as the foundation of the United Nations.

Jaishankar used the occasion to highlight India’s contribution with 2.3 million of its citizens under arms and 14 million more participating in war production during the war and noted how Indian blood was shed at the battlefields of the world, from Tobruk, El Alamein and Montecassino, to Singapore, Kohima and Borneo.

“We helped keep key supply lines open to both your countries, one through the Persian corridor and the other over the Himalayan hump. If Indian personnel were conferred the Order of the Red Star, the medical mission led by Dr Kotnis was a legend in China,” he said.

India, which has been pressing for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, reiterated its claim to the high table and reminded both Russia and China to support the much needed reshaping of the world order.

“We, the RIC countries, have been active participants in shaping the global agenda. It is India’s hope that we will also now converge on the value of reformed multilateralism. Beyond history, international affairs must also come to terms with contemporary reality,” the Indian minister said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who backed India’s claim for a permanent seat at the UNSC, noted the ongoing border dispute between India and China was for the two countries to work out.

At the same time as the RIC foreign ministers meeting, India’s Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh was already in Moscow to attend a ceremony to mark the75th anniversary of the conclusion of the World War II.

While China’s Global Times spread information that Rajnath Singh was to meet his counterpart in Moscow, Indian officials in the defence ministry here said no such meeting would take place, indicating that India had snubbed China in the wake of the Galwan violent clashes that led to Indian soldiers’ death.

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