Ties with China were stable for three decades as two nations addressed inherited challenges and new circumstances, says EAM
Peace and tranquillity in border areas provided basis for expanded cooperation with China in other domains, says Jaishankar
NEW DELHI: India-China ties are under “severe stress" and normalcy can be restored only if bilateral pacts on border management are respected in their entirety, Indian foriegn minister S. Jaishankar said Saturday.
“To restore normalcy, agreements between the two countries must be respected scrupulously in their entirety. Where the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is concerned, any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo is unacceptable," Jaishankar said.
The minister made the comment while delivering the Sardar Patel Memorial Lecture on the theme “India and the post-Covid world."
Noting that ties with China had been stable for three decades, he said peace and tranquillity on the border had allowed the two sides to expand cooperation in other domains. “But as the pandemic unfolded, the relationship has come under severe stress," he said.
According to the minister, the India-China relationship cannot be immune to changes in the assumptions that have underpinned it.
Large civilisational states re-emerging in close proximity will not have naturally easy ties, he said. Their interests are best served by a sustained engagement based “on mutual respect and mutual sensitivity," he said.
Tensions between India and China have been high since May when New Delhi first detected multiple instructions by Chinese troops into Indian territory in Ladakh. A violent clash between the two sides in June resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese personnel. The tensions are seen as the worst in decades. With winter approaching, tens of thousands of troops mobilised on both sides are set to maintain their positions on the icy mountain tops and ridge lines in Ladakh. Many rounds of military and diplomatic talks have not been able to resolve the tensions.
In his speech, Jaishankar also spoke of the the importance of border infrastructure in national security, saying the periphery will reflect the capabilities of the heartland. Leaving parts of the border underdeveloped has its risks, he said adding “safeguarding borders is a 24x7 exercise not only an appropriate response to an emerging situation."
India’s moves to fast track the creation of border infrastructure in recent years illustrated the difference sharper focus and better implementation can make, he said. The shift from declarations to delivery is in keeping with the outlook of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, thr minister added.
“Underlying it is, of course, a basic willingness to fully recognise the challenges that the nation faces. By playing down issues like cross-border terrorism or competitive geopolitics, there has been a tendency to look away from the hard choices. In a more difficult world, that is going to be less possible," Jaishankar said.
In his speech, the minister also spoke about India’s ties with the US and Russia besides Japan.
With the US, India had pursued “non-partisan" ties and strong economic and technological complementarities have laid a strong foundation for the relationship, he said.
“But it is in the face of emerging multi-polarity that both nations have developed a serious interest in more intensive engagement," he added.
India’s ties with Russia on the other hand, have held remarkably steady and the “strategic logic that has sustained this relationship since its early days still remains largely relevant," the ministry said.India has also increased its engagement with European states, which are now taking a greater interest in the Indo-Pacific region, he said.
There is also a strong case for accelerating the partnership with Japan, which has been responsible for catalysing many aspects of India’s modernization, he said.
On the post pandemic world order Jaishankar said it was apparent even before the covid-19 crisis that the existing international system was under great stress due to multiple and complex reasons, including the disenchantment with a global economic system that created unequal gains. “The covid-19 pandemic could well be the last straw on the back of a fraying global consensus," Jaishankar added.
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