China Melts, Sends Positive Signal To India

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Despite India’s clarification on its stand on the International Tribunal’s ruling in South China Sea case, Beijing continues to insist that it has India’s support over the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) verdict. Beijing has said New Delhi does not believe that the Asian giant breached the sovereign right of the Philippines by its actions in South China Sea.

China’s Charge d’Affaires to India Liu Jinsong recently said that New Delhi has always backed Beijing’s legitimate claim on the South China Sea. Addressing a media conference in the Indian capital a couple of days ago, the envoy said that India had signed a “common position” statement on the issue when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended the Russia-India-China (RIC) conference in Moscow in April. “There is a paragraph in the RIC statement that stated the common stand of all three countries. This was in support of China’s position,” he stressed.
Liu hinted that Beijing was ready to discuss India’s NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) membership bid with the Narendra Modi government in order to find a peaceful solution. China’s acting ambassador to India further said that his country, like its southern neighbour, is a “peace-loving nation” and New Delhi should not worry about the Chinese capacity-building in national defence.

When asked whether China indeed blocked India’s membership in NSG at Seoul in June, Liu said: “This topic has been very hot last month. Now it has cooled down a little bit. I don’t want to talk too much about it and heat it up again. I want to leave time and room for the diplomats to work out a solution.” He assured the Indian people that China, as a peace-loving country, would follow international law and order and maintain healthy ties with all the neighbouring countries.

Meanwhile, senior Indian diplomats and foreign policy experts have opined that the PCA verdict on South China Sea case has prompted Beijing to soften stand on India’s NSG membership bid. As Beijing knows that New Delhi has a role in ensuring China follows the PCA ruling, the top Chinese political leadership has agreed to make compromises with New Delhi.

However, experts have advised the Modi administration to handle the South China Sea issue cautiously. They believe that Beijing can perform a swift volte-face at any time on the NSG issue. Soon after Liu met the press, senior spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup once again clarified New Delhi’s stance on the PCA verdict, saying: “For us, this is not an issue of being in favour or against any particular country. It is about the use of the global commons. We believe all parties should show utmost respect to the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans.” Asked why the Chinese envoy issued such a statement, he stressed: “Diplomacy is the art of reading between the lines. We have conveyed our position effectively.”

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