India, France share concerns on China

  • France has stepped up its engagement in Indo-Pacific as it is home to some 1.5 mn French citizens

Rezaul H. Laskar
Updated15 Sep 2022
External affairs minister S. Jaishankar with France's minister for europe and foreign affairs Catherine Colonna in New Delhi, Wednesday.
External affairs minister S. Jaishankar with France’s minister for europe and foreign affairs Catherine Colonna in New Delhi, Wednesday.

The disengagement by Indian and Chinese troops at patrolling point (PP)-15 along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh has resulted in “one problem less at the border”, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar said on Wednesday.

Jaishankar’s remarks, made at a joint media interaction with his French counterpart Catherine Colonna, came a day ahead of the participation of the leaders of India and China in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit at Samarkand, Uzbekistan. To be sure, there has been no official word on a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping on the margins of the summit.

Colonna said the situation in the Indo-Pacific and the “many challenges that have emerged because of China” figured in her discussions with Jaishankar. “We have basically the same analyses, we share the same concerns because we know the role that the Chinese are playing and we want to make sure there is no imbalance in the Indo-Pacific,” she said, speaking in French.

Referring to the withdrawal of Indian and Chinese troops at PP-15 in Hot Springs area, Jaishankar said: “I don’t think I would say anything new today, except I would recognise that we have had disengagement at PP-15. The disengagement, as I understand, was completed. And that is one problem less on the border.”

The two sides completed pulling back their troops at PP-15 on 12 September. Indian officials have described the disengagement at this friction point as a “positive development” but have said the two sides need to take forward their talks to address remaining friction points on the LAC.

Responding to a question on China blocking efforts by India and its partners to sanction Pakistan-based terrorists at the UN Security Council, Jaishankar said India and France have cooperated on this issue for many years. “I think the listing of terrorists is done because the terrorists are a threat to the entire international community. So it is not something which countries necessarily do in pursuit of a narrow national agenda. If somebody blocks listing, particularly in cases where the merits of going ahead are very apparent, I think they do so frankly at peril to their own interests and to their own reputation,” he said.

Colonna highlighted France’s interests in the Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean and said France and India will continue to support each other to ensure a “balance of powers” in the region. This will also enable both countries to develop their own strategic autonomy to secure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere, she said.

“Of course, we need to do more with India and with other partners as well so that we are more present [in the Indo-Pacific,” Colonna said. “We want to be more active so that we can present an alternative to the countries in the Pacific, whether it is in development, culture or any other areas.”

France has stepped up its engagement in the Indo-Pacific as the region is home to some 1.5 million French citizens on its island territories and 93% of its exclusive economic zone.

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