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Events of 2020 have put India-China relationship under exceptional stress: Jaishankar

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 28, 2021

S Jaishankar, Union Minister for External Affairs   -  The Hindu

External Affairs Minister lays down eight broad propositions to stabilise relationship

The events of 2020 have put India-China relationship under exceptional stress despite the two agreeing at Astana in 2017 not to allow differences to become disputes, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar has said, outlining eight broad propositions that could help stabilise relationship including respecting the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“Any expectation that they (the points of conflict) can be brushed aside, and that life can carry on undisturbed despite the situation at the border, that is simply not realistic. There are discussions underway through various mechanisms on disengagement at the border areas. But if ties are to steady and progress, policies must take into account the learnings of the last three decades,” Jaishankar said delivering the keynote address at the 13th All India Conference of China Studies on Thursday.

The Minister outlined eight broad propositions to help move towards stabilisation of relationship. “First and foremost, agreements already reached must be adhered to in their entirety, both in letter and spirit. Second, where the handling of the border areas are concerned, the LAC must be strictly observed and respected; any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo is completely unacceptable,” the Minister said.

Also read: UN chief hopes tensions along India-China border could be dialled down through dialogue

The third requirement is the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas, which would be the basis for development of relations in other domains. This is quite apart from the issue of progress in the boundary negotiations, Jaishankar said.

Fourthly, while both nations are committed to a multi-polar world, there should be a recognition that a multi-polar Asia is one of its essential constituents. While each state will have its own interests, concerns and priorities, sensitivity to them cannot be one-sided, the Minister cited as the fifth requirement.

The sixth, seventh and eighth requirements relate to both countries respecting each other’s aspirations, managing divergences and taking a long-term view to things.

Focus on development

The three-day conference focussing on developments within China, matters pertaining to India-China relations and the country’s ties with the rest of the world, is organised by the Institute of Chinese Studies and IIT Madras China Studies Centre.

Even before 2020, the India-China relationship witnessed decisions and events that reflected the duality of cooperation and competition, the Minister pointed out.

While trade grew dramatically, though its one-sided nature made it increasingly controversial, in sectors such as power and telecom, Chinese companies obtained access to the Indian market and the two pursued common issues at the global platform, when it came to interests and aspirations, some of the divergences were also apparent, he said.

“When it came to trade, promises of market access did not match delivery. The blocking of UN listing of Pakistani terrorists involved in attacks on India had its own resonance. And, of course, there was violation of Indian sovereignty by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Even the border areas saw friction on some occasions,” Jaishankar said, also citing other unpleasant moves such as China’s opposition to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

As the cumulative impact of these developments began to be felt, the two nations agreed at Astana in 2017 not to allow differences to become disputes. “But far from mitigating differences, the events of 2020 have actually put our relationship under exceptional stress,” he said.

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Published on January 28, 2021
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