New Delhi: India has a difficult relationship with China but it is perfectly capable of managing it, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday, rejecting the European construct that New Delhi’s position on Ukraine could impact global support to it if its problems with Beijing increases.
In an interactive session at a conference in the Slovakian capital Bratislava, Jaishankar also said that the “Chinese do not need a precedent somewhere else on how to engage us or not engage us or be difficult with us or not be difficult with us.”
He said Europe has to grow out of the mindset that its problems are the world’s problems but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems.
The strong comments by Jaishankar came amid persistent efforts by the European countries to convince India to take a tough position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the argument that New Delhi may face a similar challenge from China in the future.
“In terms of the connection you are making, we have a difficult relationship with China and we are perfectly capable of managing it. If I get global understanding and support, obviously it is of help to me,” Jaishankar said.
“But this idea that I do a transaction — I come in one conflict because it will help me in conflict two. That’s not how the world works. A lot of our problems in China have nothing to do with Ukraine and have nothing to do with Russia. They are predated,” he said.
Jaishankar was asked why he thinks anyone will help New Delhi in case of a problem with China after it did not help others for Ukraine.
“Somewhere Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems. That if it is you, it’s yours, if it is me it is ours. I see reflections of that,” he said.
“There is a linkage today which is being made. A linkage between China and India and what’s happening in Ukraine. China and India happened way before anything happened in Ukraine. The Chinese do not need a precedent somewhere else on how to engage us or not engage us or be difficult with us or not be difficult with us,” he said.
Jaishankar said Europe was also silent on many developments in Asia.
“If I were to take Europe collectively which has been singularly silent on many things which were happening, for example in Asia, you could ask why would anybody in Asia trust Europe on anything at all,” he said.
Jaishankar said India condemned the killings in Bucha in Ukraine and favoured an investigation into it as well.
“First of all you are mischaracterising our position, for example when Bucha happened, we condemned Bucha and we actually asked for an investigation into Bucha,” he said.
“In terms of what is happening with the Ukraine conflict, our position is very clear that we favour an immediate cessation of hostilities. Its not that we have ignored it unless you call phone calls to (Vladimir) Putin and (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy as ignoring something,” he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made phone calls to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and Russian President Putin on the crisis.