A day after Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat cited the ‘clash of civilisations’ theory to describe China’s growing ties with the Islamic world vis-à-vis the West, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar sought to distance the government from Gen Rawat’s statement. The foreign affairs minister told his Chinese counterpart that India had never subscribed to any ‘clash of civilisations’ theory.
In a statement on Jaishankar’s meeting on 16 September with Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) gathering in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, the Ministry of External Affairs said the Minister had underlined that Asian solidarity would depend on the example set by India-China relations. The two ministers, the MEA said, “exchanged views on the recent global developments”.
On 15 September, Gen Rawat, speaking in New Delhi on the changing geopolitical scenario, had said: “We are seeing some kind of a jointmanship between the Sinic and Islamic civilisations. You can see China now making friends with Iran, they are moving towards Turkey… And they will step into Afghanistan in the years to come…. Is that going to lead to a clash of civilisations with the Western civilisation?” The world is in a “turmoil”, he said.
China’s rise, the CDS said, “happened faster than people envisaged”. “We are heading back to a bipolar or multipolar world… What we are certainly seeing is more aggression on the part of nations. Especially, the one that is trying to go into the bipolar world, and making its presence felt, that is China. They are becoming more and more aggressive and we share land borders with them. Therefore, it is time to start looking at our strategies, as to how we are going to deal with two borders, which are aggressive neighbours, adversaries. Pakistan on the western front and China on the north,” he said.
During his meeting with Wang, Jaishankar, according to the MEA, said India had never subscribed to any clash of civilisations theory. He said India and China had to deal with each other on merits and establish a relationship based on mutual respect. “For this, it was necessary that China avoid viewing our bilateral relations from the perspective of its relations with third countries. Asian solidarity would depend on the example set by India-China relations.”
In a Twitter post too, Jaishankar said: “It is also essential that China does not view its relations with India through the lens of a third country.”
According to the MEA, Jaishankar “noted that since their last meeting on 14th July, the two sides had made some progress in the resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh and had completed the disengagement in Gogra area. However, there were still some outstanding issues that needed to be resolved”.
Recalling Wang had noted in their last meeting that “bilateral relations were at low ebb” and both sides had agreed that “prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of either side as it was impacting the relationship in a negative manner,” Jaishankar “emphasised that the two sides should work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LoAC in Eastern Ladakh while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols”.
“In this regard, the ministers agreed that military and diplomatic officials of the two sides should meet again and continue their discussions to resolve the remaining issues at the earliest,” the MEA said.