By Anjan Ray
India seems to have earned a huge diplomatic recognition at the end of the Bali Summit of twenty leading economic powers —the so-called G20—of the world.
A now-famous Indian sentiment echoed through the halls of Bali Summit in Indonesia and summed up the message of the leaders’ meet: “Today is not the era of war”.
The closing statement after the Bali Summit on November 15-16 includes the sentence that Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, told his counterpart Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in course of their interaction in the context of the Samarkand meet of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation.
This could be seen as a shadow diplomatic war between India and China, one of conflicting views of India and China on legitimacy of the use of force in solving problems.
Emerging on the global scene after three years of self-imposed absence since the pandemic broke out, the Chinese president Xi Jinping was mingling with other leaders without any mask, when his country was still passing through the strictest covid restrictions under Xi’s zero covid policy. Lock-down protests are turning hysterical.
President Xi had refrained from naming Russia and its Ukraine war in his opening statement and did not openly even refer to the word “war” in his references to Ukraine. He had only mentioned hostilities in different other names, in deference to what the Russian leader Putin has done. Putin has continued to mention his Ukraine campaign as “special military operation”.
The triumph of India in couching diplomatic statements in the light of its ideas would have significant impact in forthcoming one year when India would remain the president of the G20.
The global media has also in the end acknowledged India’s role in bringing about a consensus viewpoint on Ukraine which had riven the countries joining the Summit. While the West, led by USA and EU, insisted outright condemnation of Russia for its Ukraine war, China and its handful of protege countries, refused such language.
Way before the actual invasion of Ukraine by Russia, China had declared Russia as its “no-limits” friend and ever since had tacitly backed the Russian position in international forum.
This was more of an insistence on its own position in diplomatic matters than only a support for Russia. China had threatened use of force to take over Taiwan and also implement its mandate in wide areas of international disputes to force its post of view.
For example, China had insisted on having the whole of South China Sea as its exclusive sovereign territory and even clashed with local rim countries, like Vietnam and Philippines, on claiming islands and stretches of international shipping channels as its own.
China had also fought a bloody pitched battle with India on its Himalayan borders persistently claiming vast stretches of border areas and even one Indian state as its own.
In this context of China’s assertion of its rights through use of force presented a choice similar to Putin’s. India had put forward the alternative narrative of resolution through diplomacy and dialogue. This was a game of conflicting views and assertion of national power.
The West seems to have got a newly won powerful friend in its negotiations with Russia in this global platform. Russia had proved to be difficult and at the same time too powerful and important to be ignored or sidelined. Yet, the west had no handle on Russia and the sanctions and souring of relations had further distanced the two sides.
Indian mediation in this estranged relationship could become critical facilitating factor. This is what the west seems to have discovered by the end of the Bali Summit. (IPA Service)