SANTO DOMINGO: India wants to ensure that its relations with all countries advance without seeking exclusivity, external affairs minister S Jaishankar has said as he underlined that China falls into a somewhat different category because of the currently 'abnormal' nature of ties which is an outcome of a violation of border management agreements by Beijing.
Jaishankar, who arrived in Santo Domingo on his first official visit to the Dominican Republic, also said that India has seen a dramatic expansion in connectivity, contacts, and cooperation across the region. Pakistan, however, remains an exception to this in view of cross-border terrorism, he said on Friday while addressing the diplomatic corps and young minds of the diplomatic school of the Dominican Republic.
"Whether it is the US, Europe, Russia, or Japan, we are trying to ensure that all these ties advance without seeking exclusivity. China falls in a somewhat different category because of the boundary dispute and the currently abnormal nature of our ties. That is an outcome of a violation of agreements regarding border management by them,” Jaishankar said.
He said the rise of China and India in a parallel timeframe is also not without its competitive aspects. "When in other regions bid for Africa, the Pacific or Latin America, much of what is happening can be explained as the emergence of India's potential global footprint. In many cases, it is the result of autonomous forces such as business or mobility,” he said.
India has been slamming China's deployment of a massive number of troops and its aggressive behaviour along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh in violation of pacts on border management.
Earlier this week, India firmly told China that its violation of the border pacts has "eroded" the entire basis of bilateral ties and that all issues relating to the frontier must be resolved in accordance with the existing agreements.
The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake area. The ties between the two countries nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.
In his address, Jaishankar went on to explain how India approaches the world and engages Latin America and what should today's India and tomorrow's India mean.
"India's most pressing priorities are obviously in its neighbourhood. Given its size and economic strength, it is very much for the collective benefit that India takes a generous and non-reciprocal approach to cooperation with smaller neighbours. And that's exactly what we have done in the last decade under Prime Minister Narendra Modi…,” he said.
"It has seen a dramatic expansion in connectivity, contacts, and cooperation across the region. The exception to this of course, is Pakistan in view of cross-border terrorism. But whether it is the Covid challenge or more recent debt pressures, India has always stepped up for its neighbours," he said, citing the case of Sri Lanka where India extended more than USD 4 billion of economic support during the island nation's worst economic crisis in decades.
Jaishankar said that India is developing the concept of extended neighbourhoods in all directions. With ASEAN, this has taken the form of what New Delhi calls ‘the Act East Policy' that has opened up a pathway to a deeper engagement with the Indo-Pacific that is being pursued, amongst others through a mechanism called the Quad – comprising India, Japan, the US and Australia.
He pointed out that towards the West, I2U2 (India, Israel, UAE, and USA) grouping. To the South, the outlook that shapes India's thinking goes by the acronym of Sagar – an Indian word for Oceans and to the North, India has been pursuing a strategy of connecting to Central Asia more effectively.
"For the first time in 2015, PM Modi articulated a comprehensive view that spanned the entirety of the Indian Ocean and its islands. This subsequently became the building block for the Indo-Pacific vision that emerged thereafter,” he said.
"We are also practising the approach of engaging all major centres of power. Such multi-alignment reflects the reality of multipolarity. Obviously, each engagement has its own particular weight and focus,” he added.
The external affairs minister said that India has always been a staunch motori of multilateralism. “We believe that this is fundamental to the maintenance of global order. Our contributions have been significant over the years, especially in peacekeeping. The challenge, however, is the resistance to reforming multilateralism, particularly the working of the United Nations and its bodies,” he said.
He said that more countries are going to find arrangements among themselves on pressing issues when they find that the United Nations cannot rise to a challenge.
"Overall, India is a nation that is deeply committed to promoting collective solutions for global good. Our presidency of the G-20 this year is devoted to focusing on the real challenges to global development and global growth,” he added.
On India's engagement with Latin America, he said in the last decade, there had been a conscious deepening of this process. "Our trade with Latin America is today approaching a volume of USD 50 billion."
Separately, addressing the India-Dominican Republic Business Event here on Friday, Jaishankar said the trade turnover between India and the Dominican Republic has reached almost USD one billion.
He said that the two countries concluded talks on a joint economic and trade cooperation (JETCO) mechanism and hoped that it would become a platform for regular meetings, addressing economic and business cooperation opportunities between the two sides.