India with us on verdict, says China

China continues to insist that it has India’s support over the international tribunal verdict on Tuesday that rejected China’s claims in the South China Sea challenged by the Philippines, despite India’s statements to the contrary.

China’s Charge d’Affaires to India, Liu Jinsong, has told The Hindu that India’s position was “quite similar” to its own, saying India had signed a “common position” statement on the issue this April when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended the Russia-India-China (RIC) conference in Moscow.

“There is a paragraph in the RIC statement that stated the common stand of all three countries. This was in support of China’s position,” Mr. Liu said in an interview, adding that India’s latest statement showed nothing “that would suggest the Indian government is supporting this award [verdict] as has been reported.”

China refused to recognise the jurisdiction of The Hague tribunal, and has also refused to accept the award.

However, India has made it clear that it recognised that the tribunal had been set up within the jurisdiction of the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that must be given the “utmost respect”.

“For us, this is not an issue of being in favour or against any particular country. It is about the use of the global commons,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Thursday when asked to clarify if India supported the stand of China or the Philippines on the verdict.

“We believe all parties should show utmost respect to the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans,” he said.

Asked why the divergence in perception between the two, a senior MEA official said, “Diplomacy is the art of reading between the lines. We have conveyed our position effectively.”

The positions of New Delhi and Beijing over the South China Sea ruling seems to have become another divergence in their relationship that has seen a growing strain recently, especially over India’s membership bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as its push to have Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar banned.

Mr. Liu said he hoped the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou in September, followed by the BRICS summit in Goa in October would be able to set a “strategic vision” for the future even as they tried to “manage” the issues between the two countries.

On the NSG meeting in Seoul last month, where India accused China of being the “one country” that opposed its membership, the Acting Ambassador refuted the charge.

“China is not opposed to any country’s membership, nor have we stated that we support any country’s membership. Our concern on the NSG is the way of the entry and the procedure to follow for non-signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. India’s entry would not be some low-hanging fruit and it needs discussion by parties concerned,” Mr. Liu said, adding that at least “eight to nine countries” shared Chinese concerns on procedure, contrary to India’s view.

However, regarding the proposed ban on Masood Azhar, Mr. Liu said China had put “a hold, not a block” on India’s request at the UN ‘1267’ Taliban/Al Qaeda committee that has been held up since February this year. MEA officials are hopeful that China would allow the “technical hold” to lapse by September, so the ban on Azhar, now wanted for the Pathankot terror attack, would go into force.

Mr. Liu said China’s only objection to the ban was the reference to Pakistan, as Azhar is a citizen of that that country, and suggested talks between India and Pakistan on the issue.

“1267 is one of the many questions under discussion. It has caused some difficulty. We all know that Masood Azhar is of Pakistani origin. If you can smoothen out this issue between India and Pakistan, China would have no problem, so that’s why we put just a technical hold, not a political hold. And hold means not block,” Mr. Liu said, indicating that China did not rule out negotiations on the issue.

Respect South China Sea ruling: India, Japan

Japan and India on Thursday “urged all parties to show utmost respect” to the ruling of a tribunal earlier this week in The Hague on South China Sea dispute. A joint statement to this effect was issued after the annual defence ministerial meeting between the two countries.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague had ruled that China had no historic rights over the South China Sea and its claims were in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“The ministers recognised that the security and stability of the seas connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans are indispensable for peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region,” said the statement.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 3:08:57 AM |

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