With China not budging from its position on India’s NSG bid, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar has called for a “sensible and pragmatic” conversation between the two sides on how “not accommodating” each other’s aspiration was detrimental to the overall relationship. The Foreign Secretary also observed India should use its soft power and do more in improving its image in China as people there do not have a very fair idea about the country.
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The Foreign Secretary’s comments featured in a report of the Standing Committee on External Affairs on India’s soft power which was tabled in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. “I do not think we should be in denial of what is the problem that we are having with China right now. So, at this time what is required with China is a sensible pragmatic conversation about how not accommodating each other’s aspirations is not beneficial to the relationship. We need to have the conversation and we will have that conversation,” Jaishankar has been quoted as saying in the report.
He was replying to a question on whether soft power can be employed in India’s dealings with China. Referring to the NSG issue, he said soft power has a value but asserted it cannot be substitute for some serious hard power arguments.
“..we cannot find a fix for a terrorism problem or a PoK problem or a NSG problem in soft power engagement per se.” At the same time, the Foreign Secretary said, “I do believe, particularly in China, we need to do more to improve our image there. I did two postings there back to back. I think an average American has an image of India which is much superior to what an average Chinese has of India. Therefore, clearly there is work to be done , there is soft power deficiency there which needs to be remedied.”
Comparing India’s soft power with that of China, the Foreign Secretary said India’s pluralism, which does not have sharp edges, and the very lack of assertiveness make people comfortable and less threatened.
“A part of it was also because a democratic country with a culture of tolerance, culture of acceptance seems to be intellectually less domineering than China,” he said.