The assault on Indian forces along the Line of Actual Control in 2020 was a “warning we should all heed”, and Australia stood up for India’s sovereignty then and continues to do so now, visiting Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles said on Wednesday. He was referring to the stand-off in eastern Ladakh and the clash in Galwan which led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers. It is vital that China “commits to resolving this dispute” through dialogue, he said.
“It is vital that China commits to resolving this dispute through a process of dialogue consistent with international law. The global rules-based order matters everywhere, including in the highest place on earth,” Mr. Marles said at the National Defence College on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, he held a bilateral meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during which the two sides agreed to explore means to grow connections and opportunities between the defence industrial bases of two countries as well as to increase the resilience of supply chains and deliver capabilities to their respective defence forces, the Defence Ministry said.
“It is critical that China’s neighbours do not see its build-up as a risk for them because without that reassurance, it is inevitable that countries will seek to upgrade their own military capabilities in response,” Mr. Marles said in the address referring to China’s massive military build-up. He termed India as “one of the priorities of the new Australian government”.
He said the return of war in Europe was another warning while adding that he was not here to “lecture” India on how it should respond to this conflict, or how it should manage its relationship with Russia.
A Defence Ministry statement said that both Ministers committed to give a fillip to the India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Defence Research and Materiel Cooperation, which will meet in Australia later this year.
India is also set to participate participation in Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour exercise in October 2022.