Chair: Ashok K. Kantha
About the Speaker:
Ambassador Shyam Saran is an Indian career diplomat. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1970 and rose to become the Foreign Secretary to the Government of India. Prior to his appointment as the Foreign Secretary he served as India's ambassador to Myanmar, Indonesia and Nepal and as High Commissioner to Mauritius. Upon completion of his tenure as the Foreign Secretary he was appointed Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Indo-US civil nuclear issues and later as Special Envoy and Chief Negotiator on Climate Change.
Lecture delivered by Ambassador Shyam Saran
I wish to thank the Institute of Chinese Studies, its Director, Ambassador Ashok K. Kantha and the India International Centre and its Director, Air Marshal Naresh Verma, for inviting me to deliver the Inaugural Lecture in their new Lecture Series. Being associated closely with both these prestigious institutions I welcome their joint initiative to promote an informed public discourse on key issues of our time.
We are currently in a prolonged stand-off with Chinese forces on the Doklam plateau and it is hoped that this will be eventually resolved peacefully. But in dealing with such situations it is helpful to be aware of the overall context in which specific events may be unfolding. Let me begin by sharing with you my own interpretation of China’s display of unusually aggressive and threatening behaviour. My sense is that China was caught on the wrong foot by the unanticipated action taken by Indian armed forces to confront China’s road building team in Doklam, which is Bhutanese territory. It has been engaged in its usual incremental nibbling advance in this area for several years, making dirt tracks, sending graziers in summers and occasional patrols. The Bhutanese have lodged protests, there have been solemn commitments not to disturb the status quo but intrusions have continued. This time around the Chinese made bold to signal their intention to establish a permanent presence and may have believed that the Bhutanese would protest but would acquiesce. India, it was assumed, would be unhappy but would be unlikely to face-off China on Bhutanese territory. Read More...
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