Mind Games Would Be Played: Jaishankar On China’s Approach Towards Bilateral Ties

TNN Bureau. Updated: 2/23/2024 6:57:45 PM National

New Delhi, Feb 23: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said arriving at an equilibrium and maintaining it is going to be one of the “biggest challenges” for India-China ties even as he asserted that the immediate issue at hand was Beijing’s departure from laid down norms triggering the border row in eastern Ladakh.

In an interactive session at the Raisina Dialogue, he cautioned against China’s “mind game” to restrict the issues under the bilateral framework and said India must not forgo its rights to harness other factors in the world to get better terms on an equilibrium.

On the economic front, the external affairs minister said there would be a period when the Chinese economy will be flattening out and India will be growing and referred to projections by Goldman Sachs that suggested that by 2075, both countries could end up as USD 50 trillion plus economies.

Jaishankar said India should be confident enough to “leverage” the international system to create the “best possible outcome”.

His remarks came when asked whether there would be a settling point between China and India and would the two countries finally find an equilibrium or a balance in their frosty relations.

“Here is the immediate issue which is: From the late 1980s, we had an understanding on the border precisely because it suited both of us. Now there was a departure after almost 30 years. A departure on their side in terms of how they behaved on the border. And there was a pushback from our side,” he said.

“I think arriving at an equilibrium, then maintaining those and refreshing those is going to be one of the biggest challenges for both countries. It is not going to be easy,” he noted.

The external affairs minister said “mind games” will be played which would be that it is “just between the two of us”.

“The other 190 odd countries do not exist in our relationship. That will be the mind game which will be played. I do not think we should play it,” he said.

“Because if there are other factors out there in the world which can be harnessed by me to get better terms on an equilibrium, then why should I forgo that right,” he said.

“Today, when I say think through your own solution, do not give another country, which is clearly a competitive country, a veto over our policy choices. Unfortunately, in the past that has happened from time-to-time,” he said.

Talking about the two economies, Jaishankar said the Chinese started off “earlier and much more intensively and robustly” than India did.

“But it is in the nature of things that at some stage everybody flattens out. So there will be a period when they will be flattening out and we will be growing,” he said.

“I am not in denial of what the numbers today suggest. But if one looks for an example in Goldman Sachs predictions which is that we will both really by around 2075 end up as USD 50 trillion plus economies and will be the two closest to each other,” he said.

“The international version of that issue will be — if both of us are moving vis-a-vis each other and vis-a-vis the world, how do we construct an equilibrium; that There will be occasions when one or the other would want to do something to press home a particular advantage and the other would resist it,” he said.

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