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China Remains Jaishankar's Main Problem

By Subhayan Chakraborty, Bhaswar Kumar
June 15, 2024 09:31 IST
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'China is India's primary strategic challenge, which will not go away.'

IMAGE: President Droupadi Murmu, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi with neighbouring countries' heads of State and government at Rashtrapati Bhavan, June 9, 2024. Photograph: Rahul Singh/ANI Photo

Engaging China at home and abroad, and ensuring the survival of two mega economic corridors connecting India to Europe, West Asia and Russia, would remain key priorities of the ministry of external affairs under the new NDA government.

While the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs has congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the election victory, both countries remain locked in confrontational positions on a host of issues.

This ranges from issues such as border disputes in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh to multilateral machinations over India's membership in the Quad grouping.

It also includes efforts to secure a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.

"It is important for both India and China to emerge from the current cul-de-sac in their relationship. China is India's primary strategic challenge, which will not go away," Ashok K Kantha, former ambassador of India to China, recently told Business Standard.

On a global scale, India is trying to gain a toehold in competition with China in diverse areas where Beijing has long held sway.

This includes pacts with African countries to secure critical minerals and expanding lines of credit to fund infrastructure projects across the continent. These projects had seen huge amounts of Chinese investments over the past decade.

The MEA would also need to ensure the survival of two key trade corridors that is set to entrench India into the global economy.

The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) -- connecting India to Western European markets -- and the International North-South Transport Corridor -- connecting India to Russia -- have seen full support from all parties, but little movement on ground.

As always, the external affairs minister will have to ensure that India's interests in its immediate neighbourhood are secured.

This is something which has increasingly become tenuous.

Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu attended the swearing in ceremony, a sign that both nations have made headway in rectifying the recent nosedive in relations.

He was joined by Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Leaders of two nations with which ties have repeatedly oscillated in the last 10 years of the Modi government -- Nepal and Sri Lanka -- were also present.

Helming the MEA, Minister S Jaishankar has repeatedly stressed that diplomatic resources would be used to broaden trade and investment opportunities for India.

Ensuring the continued promotion of Make in India and the economic growth story abroad, especially by capitalising on its G20 success, remains a key focus, officials said.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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Subhayan Chakraborty, Bhaswar Kumar
Source: source