India-China ties under exceptional stress: Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that India is yet to receive a credible explanation for the change in China’s stance and massing of troops in border areas. Anish Singh reports
Stating that India needs to invest more deeply into the study of China, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that the events in eastern Ladakh last year has profoundly disturbed the relationship between two nations as they not only signalled a disregard for commitment about minimising the troops level but also showed a willingness to breach peace and tranquillity.
In early May 2020, China tried to unilaterally change the status quo at several locations along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh region. The event subsequently led to a violent clash between troops of two countries, wherein 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action. China also suffered casualties but did not reveal the numbers.
Speaking at the 13th All India Conference of China Studies, Jaishankar said, "We are yet to receive a credible explanation for the change in China’s stance and massing of troops in border areas."
"There is no question that we need to invest more deeply in the study of China. It’s salient in the global order is the self-evident and recent decades if anything has only heightened that prominence," he said.
On January 20, the soldiers of the two countries were involved in a fresh brawl at Naku La in Sikkim.
Talking about relations between India and China in 2020, he said that the events in the last year have put the ties under 'exceptional stress'.
"Development of ties can only be based on mutuality such as mutual respect, mutual sensitivity, mutual interest," he said, adding that it is not realistic to expect to carry on with the normal life when the situation at the border is tense.
"Peace in border areas basis for the overall development of ties with China. If it is disturbed, so inevitably is rest of the relationship," he said.
Calling for LAC must be strictly observed and respected, the minister said, "Any attempt to unilaterally change status quo is completely unacceptable."
"Agreements already reached must be adhered to in their entirety, both in letter and spirit," he added.
On the trade gap with China, the minister said, "Even before 2020, the India-China relationship witnessed decisions and events reflected the duality of cooperation and competition. We saw trade grow dramatical though it was one-sided nature made it increasingly controversial."
"In sectors like telecom and power Chinese companies obtained access to Indian markets the number of Indian students grew as indeed the Indian tourists visited there," he added.
"In the global arena, we met a common cause on some developmental and economic issues. Our common membership for plurilateral groups was also a meeting point. Yet when it came to interest and aspirations some of the divergences were also apparent. You may recall the practice of stapled visas, reluctance to deal with some of our military commands, then there was China's opposition to India's membership to Nuclear Supply Group to a permanent seat in UNSC," Jaishankar said.