External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his remarks in United Kingdom concerning India’s approach on China and said “when Panda huggers try to be China hawks… it doesn’t fly”.
“I am troubled as a citizen of India when I see somebody drooling over China and being dismissive about India… When Panda huggers try to be China hawks… it doesn’t fly,” Jaishankar said at the India Today conclave in response to questions about Rahul Gandhi’s remarks.
The External Affairs Minister’s response came days after Rahul Gandhi said at in a conversation with members of the Indian Journalists’ Association in London that Jaishankar “doesn’t understand China threat”.
Panda is bear species endemic to China and the country has in the past indulged in Panda diplomacy to foster friendships.
Rahul Gandhi had also alleged that government had not fully understood the import of China’s actions at the border. During his UK visit, the Congress leader also said that ‘harmony’ was a key idea for the Chinese as they had seen many conflicts and faced internal turmoil.
“Rahul Gandhi talks admiringly of China and describes the country as ‘harmony’, he says China is the greatest manufacturer and says ‘Make in India’ won’t work’. You can have a point of view about a country, but you should not undermine the national morale,” Jaishankar said in a sharp counter to Rahul Gandhi.
He said Rahul Gandhi’s one-word description of China is “harmony” and that of India is “discord.”
Jaishankar was also asked about Opposition allegations that the government was not being honest about the situation on the China border.
“These are the same opponents who said let us leave the border undeveloped so that the Chinese can’t come in,” the minister said.
He also spoke about Quad which includes Australia, India, Japan and the United States took potshots at the UPA government over its stance about the strategic security dialogue.
” Do you remember that the first time we tried the Quad was in 2007 and do you remember what happened to that Quad and How much we stood up to China at that point of time? So, what’s the difference? Today, you have a Quad because this government has frankly the guts to stand up on Quad, (in) 2007 we didn’t, we buckled. Coming to Quad, I would say, this is not about statements because somebody explicitly mentioned a country or not. It shouldn’t really be seen through a prism of treaties and alliances. To my mind, that’s an old thing. This is a different Quad …treaties and alliances are part very much part of post-Second World War, Cold War kind of framework,” Jaishankar said.
He said the global situation calls for countries with converging interests, who have a great deal of comfort with each other.
“Working together in an area or domain where they find themselves comfortable. In the case of Quad, that happens to be primarily the Indo-Pacific and then developing what we call habits of cooperation,” he said
“I think, if you see, from the time Quad was revived…It took a decade for it to be revived…it started at the Foreign Secretaries level, I happened to be FS at that time. In 2019, it became Foreign Minister’s level, I happened to be FM at that time too and in 2021, it met at Prime Minister’s/President’s level,” he added.
Jaishankar said Quad agenda is growing, and each meeting is actually broadening the areas of cooperation.
“I feel it is moving well, precisely because it is flexible, nimble, creative, gets top attention. What, I would not like to see is becoming bureaucratic, and rigid, where it becomes legalistic, and people spend more time quarrelling about — does this confirm that article or not. That’s not the way we are thinking at all,” he said.