Jaishankar said he and former Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi reached an in-principle agreement in September 2020 on resolving the border standoff. “So the Chinese have to deliver on what was agreed and they have struggled with that,” he said, without giving details
The situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) remains “very fragile” as there are points where Indian and Chinese troop deployments are “quite dangerous” and China needs to deliver on commitments to resolve the issue, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday.
In the context of the Ukraine conflict, the Indian side is working on getting the G20 to refocus on its original mandate of challenges to global development and growth, including rising debt and food shortages, Jaishankar said at the India Today Conclave on Saturday.
“This is a very challenging and abnormal phase in our ties with China,” he said, adding China’s violation of agreements and protocols for border management had resulted in the clash at Galwan Valley in June 2020 that resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops
“Now 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 up. And in the military assessment actually, therefore, quite dangerous,” he said.
Jaishankar said he and former Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi reached an in-principle agreement in September 2020 on resolving the border standoff. “So the Chinese have to deliver on what was agreed and they have struggled with that,” he said, without giving details.
At that time, Jaishankar and Wang agreed on a five-point plan to resolve the standoff, including quick disengagement and easing of tensions between border troops, abiding by existing agreements and protocols, and working on new confidence-building measures.
Jaishankar added, “For me, it’s very clear cut– until these problems are sorted out, we will not return to a normal relationship. I want to make that very, very clear.”
Describing discussions on troop disengagement in some areas as painstaking, he said the Indian side has made it very clear to China that “we cannot have a breach of peace and tranquillity, you can’t violate agreements and then want the rest of the relationship to continue as though nothing happened, that’s just not tenable”.
He also said he had a long discussion on this issue with new Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang on the margins of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting.
Jaishankar dismissed senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of his and the government’s handling of relations with China, saying past Congress governments failed to build up infrastructure on the border with China and unilaterally backed down during several face-offs over the decades.
He acknowledged there are places where India and China have “mutually agreed areas of temporary non-patrolling” to facilitate disengagement, and these were worked out in areas where the deployments were “very close up.”
Jaishankar was also critical of Gandhi’s remarks at an event in the UK, saying he had spoken admiringly of China while running down India in every possible way. Gandhi compared China’s Belt and Road Initiative to the “Yellow River in China gushing forth” but failed to note that the project violates India’s sovereignty as it goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, said Jaishankar. “When panda huggers try to be China hawks, it doesn’t fly,” he added.
He said as the president of G20, India has sought to get the grouping to refocus on its original mandate of challenges to global development and growth after that agenda was sidetracked by the Ukraine conflict in 2022.
At the recent meetings of G20 finance and foreign ministers, there was no agreement on rolling over the consensus reached at the last G20 Summit on the Ukraine crisis because of the position taken by China and Russia.
India-Russia ties have remained “extraordinarily stable”, said Jaishankar. “As a result of the Ukraine conflict, Russia will turn more towards Asia…I would suggest to you that when Russia turns more towards Asia, a big part of that will actually be visible in India-Russia relations,” he added.