No credible Chinese language clarification for massing of troops in border areas: Jaishankar

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 28

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday suggested three “mutuals” and eight broad propositions in order to bring back India-China ties.

The minister gave no indication whether any of this was being discussed by the two nations.

“The three mutuals – mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests – are determining factors. Any expectation that they can be brushed aside, and that life can carry on undisturbed despite the situation at the border, that is simply not realistic,’’ he said while delivering the keynote address at the 13th All India Conference of China Studies headed by former Indian envoy to China Ashok Kantha.

Jaishankar also underlined the importance of stabilising the relationship through eight broad propositions. Most of them were mentioned in the five-point consensus reached by Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in September last year. Looking back, Indian officials say it was not implemented in letter and in spirit.

Among Jaishankar’s fresh eight principles are: Agreements already reached must be adhered to in their entirety; the LAC must be strictly observed and respected; border area peace and tranquillity is the basis for development of relations in other domains; there should be a recognition that a multi-polar Asia is an essential constituent of a multipolar world; sensitivity cannot be one-sided; as rising powers, both will have aspirations and their pursuit cannot be ignored; management of differences is essential to ties; and, the two civilisational states must always take the long view.

The minister said the Modi government had made efforts to reduce the infrastructure gap with China since 2014; he conceded that nevertheless, the infrastructure differential remained significant and, as India saw at Galwan Valley last year, consequential.

These events have profoundly disturbed the relationship because they signalled a disregard for commitments. “Significantly, to date, we have yet to receive a credible explanation for the change in China’s stance or reasons for massing of troops in the border areas,” said India’s longest-serving ambassador to China.

Jaishankar also recalled past instances of divergences such as the practice of stapled-visas, the reluctance to deal with some Army commands, the opposition to India’s membership of NSG and a permanent seat at UNSC. In trade, promises of market access did not match delivery; there was blocking of UN listing of Pakistani terrorists and violation of Indian sovereignty by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Even the border areas saw frictions on some occasions.

The minister said he didn’t have a definitive answer to offer on immediate concerns or more distant prospects vis-a-vis China. But the development of our ties can only be based on mutuality. Discussions are under way through various mechanisms on disengagement at the border areas, but the policies must take into account the learnings of the last three decades, he observed.

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