Mumbai: India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, addressed concerns about China’s influence on India’s neighbouring countries, emphasizing the need for healthy competition during an interactive session with students at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Mumbai on Tuesday.
In response to questions about strained ties with the Maldives, Jaishankar acknowledged the competitive politics in the region but urged against viewing it as a failure of Indian diplomacy. “We must recognize that China is a neighbouring country and, as part of competitive politics, will influence these countries,” he said. The minister emphasized that India should not be scared of China, stating that global politics is a competitive game where each country should strive to do its best.
Highlighting China’s major economic status, Jaishankar acknowledged that China would deploy resources to shape things in its own way. However, he urged against complaining about China’s actions, asserting that India should welcome competition and express its own capability to compete on the global stage.
Addressing India’s track record of assisting neighbours, Jaishankar cited the example of Sri Lanka, where India provided assistance during a severe economic crisis. Responding to questions about the ‘India Out’ campaign in the Maldives, he urged the audience to trust Indian diplomacy, stating that every country faces problems in its neighbourhood.
The minister acknowledged that politics often takes sharp positions, but diplomacy doesn’t always align with those stances. He emphasized that, despite differences, neighbours need each other due to the powerful forces of history and geography.
Earlier this month, the newly-elected Maldives President, Mohamed Muizzu, had requested the withdrawal of all Indian military personnel deployed in the country by March 15. The Maldives government also announced that a Chinese ship, equipped for research and surveys, would be docking at a Maldivian port for replenishment. Jaishankar’s remarks come amid growing concerns about China’s expanding influence in the region and India’s diplomatic approach to maintain regional stability.