A week after the Chinese aggression led to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in a face-off in Ladakh, India on Tuesday subtly nudged China, saying that the leaders of the world must be exemplars on all fronts.
In a first on-screen face-to-face virtual meeting with his counterparts in China and Russia, Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar said: “The leading voices of the world must be exemplars in every way. Respecting international law, recognising legitimate interest of partners, supporting multilateralism and promoting common good is the only way to build a durable world order.”
Jaishankar was speaking at the trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting among Russia, India and China (RIC), hosted by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Though the meeting has been called to mark the 75th anniversary of the conclusion of the World War II and the victory of allies over the Nazi Germany, the RIC is considered to be a platform for strategic communication during crisis among the three countries. Moscow, which shares a great rapport with the Chinese Communist Party regime, is broadly seen as a mediator between New Delhi and Beijing.
The trilateral meeting follows the recently held hostile phone conversation between Jaishankar and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi over the violent face-off initiated by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh’s Galwan valley.
“This special meeting reiterates our belief in the time-tested principles of international relation,” Jaishankar said in his opening remarks. “But the challenge today is not just one of concepts and norms, but equally of their practice,” he added.
Recalling history, Jaishankar said the victory over Nazism and Fascism was achieved through sacrifices across many theatres by many countries including India which made a significant contribution, with 2.3 million of its citizens under arms and 14 million more participating in war production.
Indian blood was shed at the battlefields of the world, from Tobruk, El Alamein and Montecassino, to Singapore, Kohima and Borneo. The minister said India helped keep key supply lines open to both Russia and China, one through the Persian corridor and the other over the Himalayan hump. If Indian personnel were conferred the Order of the Red Star, the medical mission led by Dr.Kotnis was a legend in China. “So tomorrow, when our military contingent marches through the Red Square, it would be an affirmation of the difference that we made,” the minister said.
When the victors met to fashion the ensuing global order, the political circumstances of that era did not give India due recognition. This historical injustice has stood uncorrected for the last 75 years, even as the world has changed, the minister said. “Therefore, on this momentous occasion, it is important for the world to realize both the contribution that India made and the need to rectify the past,” he added,
The External Affairs Minister reiterated the need for reforms in international institutions. “The United Nations began with 50 members; today it has 193. Surely, its decision making cannot continue to be in denial of this fact. We, the RIC countries, have been active participants in shaping the global agenda. It is India’s hope that we will also now converge on the value of reformed multilateralism,” he said.
The three RIC ministers are likely to discuss the current global situation due to the coronavirus pandemic and other challenges and the possibility of the RIC cooperation in overcoming them.