New Delhi: The assault on Indian forces along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 2020 was a warning for all countries and China should commit to resolving this dispute through a dialogue consistent with international law, Australia’s deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said on June 22.
Marles, who also holds the post of defense minister, said in an address at the National Defence College in New Delhi that China is not at the center of every decision made by India and Australia while working together to respond to strategic change.
While acknowledging China’s right to have a “stronger say” in regional and global affairs, he said it is important that the exercise of power by Beijing “exhibits the characteristics necessary for our shared prosperity and security” and respect for agreed rules and norms.
Marles’ blunt comments came against the backdrop of China’s strained relations with both India and Australia. India has been locked in a military standoff with Chinese troops since May 2020, while Beijing’s relations with Canberra are currently at a low following the imposition of stiff tariffs and unofficial bans on Australian exports.
He said China’s military build-up – the “largest and most ambitious” by any country since the end of World War 2 – should not be seen by neighbors as a risk. Without such reassurance, it is inevitable for countries to upgrade their military capabilities in response, he added.
“Insecurity is what drives an arms race. India’s own experience illustrates this maxim more than most. The assault on Indian forces along the Line of Actual Control in 2020 was a warning we should all heed,” Marles said.
“Australia stood up for India’s sovereignty then and continues to do so now. It is vital that China commits to resolving this dispute through a process of dialogue consistent with international law. The global rules-based order matters everywhere, including in the highest place on earth,” he added. (Hindustan Times)