Asserting that relationship between India and China is at the “crossroads”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said choices made by the two countries will have “profound repercussions” for the entire world.
Speaking at the 13th All Indian Conference of China Studies, Jaishankar said the clash between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Ladakh last year at the Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has ‘profoundly’ disturbed India-China relations.
“The India-China relationship today is truly at the cross-roads, choices that are made will have profound repercussions not just for the two nations but for the entire world,” he said.
“For all the differences and disagreements we may have had on the boundary, the central fact was that border areas still remained fundamentally peaceful. The last loss of life before 2020 was as far back in 1971 that is why the events in eastern Ladakh last year have so profoundly disturbed the relationship,” he added.
“They not only signalled a disregard for commitment about minimising troop levels but also showed a willingness to breach peace and tranquillity… We are yet to receive a credible explanation for the change in China’s stance or reason for the massing of troops,” he said.
With regard to where relations between New Delhi and Beijing stand, the External Affairs Minister said he does not have a definite answer to offer at “this moment”.
“Whether it is our immediate concern or more distant prospects, the fact is that the development of our ties can only be based on mutuality. The three mutuals — mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests — are its determining factors,” Jaishankar said further.
He pointed out that any expectation that they (the three mutuals) can be brushed aside and “life can carry on undisturbed” despite the situation at the LAC border is simply unrealistic.
While discussions regarding disengagement in LAC are underway, Jaishankar said for ties to be “steady and progress”, “policies must take into account the learnings of the last three decades.”
“Experiences of the past have taught us the importance of stabilising our relationship (with China) even while adjusting to changes. From that, we can seek proper guidance that will be to the benefit of both nations,” the external affairs minister stated.