China playing mind games: India

The Asian Age.  | Sridhar Kumaraswami

India, All India

Asserts China will not be allowed a veto on India’s foreign policy decisions

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a panel discussion on reforming global order, new architectures, India-China relations, Russia, Africa and cricket at the Raisina Dialogue 2024, in New Delhi, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: China will not be allowed a veto over India’s foreign policy choices in dealing with other nations and there was a pushback from India in response to Chinese actions on the border, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar said at the Raisina Dialogue conference on Friday, while accusing China of playing “mindgames” that India will not participate in.

With the second anniversary of the Ukraine war on Saturday, the minister also launched a veiled attack on Western policies aimed at isolating Russia but which in fact are bringing Moscow and Beijing even closer together, adding that “it makes sense (for the West) to give Russia multiple options” instead of “railroading” Moscow, which has had an “enormous tradition of statecraft”. At a late morning session with international foreign policy experts at the conference, the minister also argued Russia would not stake all only on a relationship with China to the exclusion of everyone else.

“There was a departure from their (China’s) side on how they behaved at the border. And there was a pushback from our side. Managing at arriving at an equilibrium (with China) will be a challenge… Don’t give another country which is clearly a competitive country a veto over our policy choices.

Unfortunately in the past, it has happened from time to time,” the EAM said, in what is also being seen as a criticism of faulty policies in previous decades. “There are mindgames that between the two of us, 190-odd countries don’t exist. That will be the mindgame that will be played. I don’t think we should play it. If other factors in the world can be harnessed by me in getting better terms for an equilibrium, why should I forego that right?” the EAM said, in what is seen as a clear rejection by India of perceived Chinese objections or anxieties over close India-US ties. “We should be confident in leveraging the international system in getting the best possible outcome,” he stated.

Attacking Western policies too in a thinly-veiled manner that were bringing China and Russia into a tighter embrace, Mr Jaishankar added: “On Russia-China, you have people whose sets of policies are bringing them together. And then you say, beware of them coming together. It makes sense to give Russia multiple options. If we railroad Russia into a single option (of gravitating towards China) and then say that’s really bad because that’s the outcome, then you are making a self-fulfilling prophecy”. The EAM added: “It makes sense for countries in Asia to engage Russia. Russia is a power with an enormous tradition of statecraft. Such powers would never put themselves into a single relationship of overwhelming nature. It would go against their grain.”

In another dig at Western policies, the EAM pointed to other “mindgames” that seeks to lecture on how democratic India is or what the state of its civil rights or media freedom is, stating that it is equal to “sledging” in the sport of cricket which is “meant to psyche you before you get ready to do anything”. The EAM also slammed the “mindgames” of obstructing reforms at the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the grounds of consensus or the lack of it. “It is like saying how can I take the exam unless I know the result,” he pointed out. Talking about India’s global role, he said that in the past one decade, India has been a frequent first responder to many a crisis in other parts of the world.