'India carefully re-examining trade, investment ties with Beijing'

In the wake of China’s “aggressive posture” and its attempts at “multiple transgressions along the border” last year, India is very carefully examining its options with regard to its trade and investment ties with Beijing to ensure that New Delhi’s “integrity and security remain intact”, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Wednesday

Nov 25, 2021
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Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla

In the wake of China’s “aggressive posture” and its attempts at “multiple transgressions along the border” last year, India is very carefully examining its options with regard to its trade and investment ties with Beijing to ensure that New Delhi’s “integrity and security remain intact”, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Wednesday. In answer to a question posed by an industry member during the Annual Session of The Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Shringla also said that India needs to evaluate “very carefully” whether it is “overextended” in terms of supply chains and investment tie-ups with China and ensure it is “in keeping with our larger strategic and security interests.”

Referring to the heightened tensions along the border last year, he said: “Last year, of course, we saw that China maintained an aggressive posture and attempted multiple transgressions along our border area in eastern Ladakh. That obviously was not conducive to peace and security and as a result, we are not able to conduct normal relations. Having said that of course the trade continues, import and export continues, China continues to be an economic partner.”

“But obviously we need to today evaluate whether we are overextended in terms of our supply chains, in terms of our investment tie-ups, in terms of the technology that we get, we need to examine all of those very carefully to see that it is in keeping with our larger strategic and security interests,” he added.

“And that obviously as we move forward our own economy grows our own interactions grow we need to ensure that we are not vulnerable in any way. On the contrary, our growth and development can be faster and better ensured. So this is a process that we will have to see how that continues.”

“We’ve had several rounds of talks with China, we’ve solved some of the issues but there are still some outstanding issues, and until we can resolve those issues obviously we will not be in a normal relationship mode,” he added.

“Trade continues, there are investment ties that continue, but all of this has to be examined very carefully; and the government is examining all these options very, very carefully to ensure that our integrity and security remain intact,” the Foreign Secretary said.

His comments come days after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on November 19 in Singapore said that India and China are going through “a particularly bad patch” in their relationship because Beijing has taken actions “for which they still don’t have a credible explanation”, and that the Chinese leadership has to take a call on where they want to take the bilateral ties.

Speaking at a panel discussion on the theme ‘Greater power competition: The emerging world order’ at the Bloomberg New Economic Forum in Singapore, Jaishankar said that he has spoken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi a number of times "clearly", and there is “no lack of clarity” on what India has conveyed to the Chinese side.

“I don’t think the Chinese have any doubt on where we stand on our relationship, and what’s not gone right with it.

“I’ve been meeting my counterpart Wang Yi a number of times… I speak fairly clearly, reasonably understandably, there is no lack of clarity”.

"So if they want to hear it I am sure they would have heard it; but the issue where is India positioned, yes, some of it is about China, because they are our neighbour, and we are going through a particularly bad patch in our relationship, because they’ve taken a set of actions in violation of agreements, for which they still don’t have a credible explanation; and that appears to indicate some rethink about where they want to take our relationship, but that’s for them to answer,” the EAM said.

India and China held the 23rd meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) on November 18 and agreed on the need to find an early resolution to the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh and to hold the next round – 14th round - of the Senior Commanders meeting at an early date (SAM)