United Nations: In a significant victory, India has been elected to the United Nations' Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), defeating China in a direct fight for the lone seat from the Asia-Pacific region and returning to this powerful external oversight body after a gap of 35 years.
India's permanent representative to the UN offices in Geneva, A Gopinathan defeated Zhang Yan, China's Ambassador in New Delhi, to assume a place on the JIU for a five-year term starting on January 1, 2013.
India won with a clear majority of 106 votes out of the 183 cast, while China got 77 votes. India has served only once on the JIU 35 years ago from 1968 to 1977.
The JIU election was the first time ever that India was locked in a "direct contest" with China in the UN General Assembly.
"We are thrilled. The important thing is that this was a straight contest because it involves a country which is the world's second largest economy and which has growing diplomatic reach," India's Permanent Representative to the UN
Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said.
A visibly beaming Puri said he was 'very confident' about the country's chances as it had a 'good candidate' and also because of "India's standing" at the multilateral body.
Countries are elected to the JIU for five years and typically extend their term for another five years.
China had held its seat for 10 years and its term was to expire in December 2012.
It was assumed that China would not seek to re-contest for the post.