External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday that he sees "more consistency than difference" in India's policy towards China despite the change of governments and held that a diplomat, as well as a minister, follows the policy of the government of the day.
His remarks came in Rajya Sabha during Question Hour when senior Congress member and former union minister Ambika Soni sought to know from the diplomat-turned-politician that whether he has changed his point of view on China after becoming a minister.
"Many of us know that there are other contentious issues between the two countries (India-China). We are all familiar with the views of the present Foreign Minister when he was Ambassador to China and subsequently. His personal views helped the government of the day enormously in sorting out many contentious issues. Has he changed his point of view after becoming a minister," she asked.
Responding to it Jaishankar said, "As a Minister or as a diplomat, you follow the policy of the government of the day."He said as far as "our policy" towards China is concerned, "honestly, I see more consistency than difference".
"I think it is India's endeavour to engage China. They are our largest neighbour. Between us, our ability to get along will define the Asian century. So, I have always believed, both as a Diplomat and today as the External Affairs Minister, that India-China relations are critical for both countries," he said.
Jaishankar was replying to questions in the House for the first time after becoming the minister and Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu hailed him.
"Today was the first time that Dr Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister, got a chance to answer in Parliament and he did it extremely well," Naidu remarked.
Replying to a supplementary whether India and China are going to limit the stockpile of nuclear weapons, the Minister said the issue was being discussed in the Conference on Disarmament.
"Any agreement that India will accede to will have to be non-discriminatory and concerning all the countries with nuclear weapons," he said.
Asked whether government initiated any step to enhance relations between the Armies of two countries on regional and global strategic issues, Jaishankar said India has a number of dialogues with China.
"The Prime Minister engages the President of China at an informal summit. I have a dialogue with my counterpart which takes place every year. At the military level, we have a very, very detailed engagement." "We do discuss both military and strategic issues. In fact, in Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Dialogue we did discuss issues like Iran, JCPOA and issues like the INF treaty. There is a very healthy and a very candid discussion on a range of subjects," he said.
To a question on Brahmaputra river, he said both the countries have a mechanism called "Expert Level Mechanism" which looks at transnational river water issues."
Two rivers are dealt with by them - Brahmaputra and Satluj. We do engage China on river water issues, specifically, on the Brahmaputra. China has constructed dams on the Brahmaputra which they describe as run-of-the-river dams. We monitor these dams very, very carefully.
"We have suggested to the Chinese side that the data that they give us should not only relate to the flood season but to the dry season as well. So, on the entire issue regarding rivers and, specifically, the Brahmaputra, we are in very, very close touch," he said.
Jaishankar's remarks came in Rajya Sabha during Question Hour when senior Congress member and former union minister Ambika Soni sought to know from the diplomat-turned-politician that whether he has changed his point of view on China after becoming a minister.