Another India-China face off at United Nations
Another India-China face off at United Nations - The Times of India
NEW DELHI: India and China are facing off again, this time over an election to a UN body. A Gopinathan, India's envoy to the UN in Geneva, is India's candidate to the UN's only external oversight body, Joint Inspection Unit. It's a post India last held in 1977 and wants to return to.
China has held the post since 2003
and wants to renew it in 2012. China's candidate is Zhang Yan, currently ambassador to India, and due to retire soon. Both countries want the job. Both countries are rising powers, and want a greater say in international affairs. Both countries enjoy increasing clout. And they are on a competition course.
India has told all its heads of missions to go all out to pitch for their candidate. Gopinathan is one of India's finest diplomats and he enjoys a great deal of support within the cadre. So it's fair to expect a spirited pitch on his behalf.
Zhang, on the other hand, is also one of China's most experienced diplomats and has held a tough job for the past few years. Known to be well-connected to the Communist Party elite, Zhang too can expect strong endorsement from the Chinese foreign ministry, which, sources said, also sent out requests for support.
While the post may not have the stature of a secretary-general, it is nevertheless important, certainly for India. China, being a P-5 member can afford to be more blase about it. India's strength lies in its lobbying capacity -- having had to fight elections for all multilateral posts, Indian diplomats have honed their skills at the craft. Besides, Gopi, as he is known in the service, is one of their own. Unlike Shashi Tharoor, who, as candidate for UN secretary general received only lukewarm response from the MEA mandarins, Gopinathan can call upon the collective bargaining power of the Indian diplomatic elite.
But China has deeper pockets, and a bigger stick. China, as a P-5 member, can pull levers India can't. But it will also depend on how much the Chinese foreign ministry is willing to invest in this election. The post concerned is not country oriented but individual oriented, which makes it somewhat unusual.
Zhang got into a spat with an Indian journalist recently, asking him to "shut up" when questioned why Chinese companies were circulating maps showing large swathes of India as being part of China and Pakistan.