Ties with China and why Vijay Gokhale’s appointment as Foreign Secretary is important
Vijay Gokhale took over the foreign secretary of India. Gokhale a seasoned diplomat took over from S Jaishankar.
The appointment of Gokhale comes at a very crucial time especially in the wake of tense ties with China. In his appointment, India can hope that the teething issues with China could be sorted out and in this regard, his experience would be of great help.
He along with National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval played a crucial role in settling the Doklam standoff. Both officers ensured that the tense standoff came to an end.
Several officials had worked tirelessly to end the standoff. When the talks were on, Gokhale was the Ambassador to China. A 1981 IFS batch officer, Gokhale along with Doval stayed in touch with the envoys from China to find a resolution.
Since the standoff began in June, China told India that the issue would not fall within the purview of the special representatives. When the talks began, China said that the Sikkim section of the boundary was a settled issue.
Only negotiate on the disputed portion, China also said. Both Doval and Gokhale made it clear to China that the status of Sikkim as an integral part of India was a settled issue.
While Doval set the tone for the talks, Gokhale kept in touch with the Chinese foreign ministry officials in Beijing. He stayed in touch with then Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.
Apart from negotiating in China, Gokhale and Jaishankar also reached out to US and Japan and explained India's stand on the issue. Both the US and Japan backed India's stand which built up the pressure on China.
Doval during his meeting with Jiechi said that the issue had to be resolved. The troops had to be pulled back. Moreover Doval also had an assurance from the Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat that they were ready. When China made it clear that Doklam did not belong to India, Doval refused to acknowledge that. He also shot back by saying, ' every disputed territory does not become China's by default." He finally managed to get the Chinese to pull out of Doklam.