Ties with China won’t see normalcy until border issues get resolved, says EAM Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has spoken about the current status of India’s relationship with China at a media event on Saturday.

Jaishankar outrightly said that ties with China won’t see normalcy until problems at the borders get resolved. He added that the situation in eastern Ladakh is «fragile» and in «military assessment».

India is looking for a disengagement process in eastern Ladakh before resuming bilateral exchanges with China. He said that the Chinese violated bilateral agreements in 2020 and the consequences were in the Galwan Valley and other areas.

“We have deployed our troops, we have stood our ground and the situation to my mind still remains very fragile because there are places where our deployments are very close and in military assessment, actually therefore, quite dangerous,» EAM Jaishankar said.

Further, the external affairs minister said, » We have made it very clear to the Chinese that we cannot have a breach of peace and tranquility, you can’t violate agreements and then want the rest of the relationship to continue as though nothing happened. That is just tenable».

Referring to his recent meeting with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang on the sidelines of the G20 meeting on 2 March, Jaishankar said, «My most recent encounter in this regard was with the new foreign minister Qin Gang when the G20 foreign minister’ meeting took place and we had a long discussion about it (India-China bilateral situation)».

In 2020, India and China had an in-principle agreement on how to resolve the border situation.

«The Chinese have to deliver on what was agreed to and they have struggled with that,» he added.

The Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a standoff for the past three years at certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement of troops from several areas following extensive diplomatic and military talks.

«This is a very, I would say, challenging and abnormal phase in our ties with China. Why I say that is because from 1988 when Rajiv Gandhi went there till 2020 the understanding was that peace and tranquility on the border would be maintained,» Jaishankar said.

The external affairs minister also referred to agreements between the two sides to not bring large forces to the border, adding a «very specific» set of understandings and even protocols were put in place on the handling of various situations.

«Now we have made substantial progress when it comes to disengagement in many areas. There are many areas where we have ongoing discussions. It is a painstaking job and we will do that,» he said.

On February 22, India and China held in-person diplomatic talks in Beijing and discussed proposals for disengagement in the remaining friction points along the LAC in eastern Ladakh in an «open and constructive manner».

The meeting took place under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC).

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area.

The ties between the two countries nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in 2021 on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.

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