Foreign Secretary on Relations with China, US
STORIES, ANALYSES, EXPERT VIEWS
Speaking during the penultimate panel discussion titled 'India as Global Partner' at the fifth Asia Economic Dialogue (AED) 2021, on 28 February, jointly hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Pune International Centre (PIC), Foreign Secretary H.V. Shringla spoke his mind on relations with US and China.
India- China relations: Remarking that a normal bilateral trade relationship with China was contingent on peace and tranquillity on other fronts, Indian Foreign Secretary H.V. Shringla said the country was looking to diversify its trade dependencies. “The current bilateral trade with China at $78 billion is heavily tilted in the latter’s favour and that will need a reset. India on its part is simultaneously working on diversifying its sourcing to ensure a more resilient supply chain in the future.”
“While China continues to be one of India’s most important trade partners, the balance of trade is skewed in favour of the former. With recent disturbances in eastern Ladakh and the ongoing process of disengagement, there is introspection on our part in making our supply chain more resilient… a normal bilateral relationship with China is calibrated on peace and tranquillity on other fronts,” he said.
Relations with the US: Commenting on future relations with the United States in wake of new Joe Biden administration, Shringla said India has had “an element of continuity” with the U.S. He said “We are trying to work out details of various proposals that have come in. How we can work together in the Indo-Pacific? This included maritime security.”
“They have had a series of good conversations. So, we have a sense of priorities with the new U.S. administration. New elements like climate change and technology have been introduced by the Biden administration. There is a range of areas to collaborate,” said the Foreign Secretary.
Vaccine diplomacy: Noting that India’s vaccine diplomacy had been a “huge success”, he said that India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy in the context of supplying vaccines to India’s neighbours has significantly raised the stature of India among people of these countries. He highlighted that India had supplied 36 million doses across the world, 80% of these through exports and the remaining in the form of grants.
The government had received a number of messages from Africa, the Gulf countries, the Bahamas and India’s neighbours (like Nepal) expressing their gratitude for the Covid-19 vaccines.