Terming the present phase in ties with China as challenging and abnormal, Union Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar said the government remained committed to protecting the national interest at any cost.
“From 1988 when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi went there till 2020 the understanding was that peace and tranquility on the border would be maintained. We had two agreements not to bring large forces to the border,” said Jaishankar.
The understanding between the two neighbours even contained protocols on the processes to be followed whenever their army patrols met each other, Jaishankar said during the session ‘Global GPS: War. Markets. Mega power shifts. And India’s new voice in the world,’ on the second day of the India Today Conclave on Saturday.
“In 2020, the Chinese violated protocols and we saw its consequences in Galwan and in other areas as well. Now we have deployed our troops and stood our ground,” he asserted.
“And the situation remains very fragile because there are places where our deployments are very close up. And in military assessment, therefore, quite dangerous,” declared Jaishankar, not mincing any words.
At the same time, the two countries have made substantial progress when it came to disengaging in several areas along the border. And despite the painstaking nature of the process, Jaishankar said it would continue. However, India would not tolerate any breach of peace and tranquility.
“You can’t violate agreements and then expect the rest of the relationship to continue as though nothing had happened. That’s just not tenable,” informed Jaishankar.
He said that he had held a detailed discussion with the new Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang on this issue at the recent G20 foreign ministers meeting held in New Delhi. Earlier in 2020, he had arrived at an in-principal agreement on resolving the border standoff with the former Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.
“The Chinese have to deliver on what was agreed to. And they have struggled with that,” observed Jaishankar.
He emphasised that the disengagement would only proceed on mutually acceptable terms, with India avoiding any unilateral measures as was the practice in the past.
“This government is very different. There is nothing unilateral. If we have taken on some commitment, that commitment is matched by an equal commitment based on the principle of equal and mutual security on the Chinese side,” he said reaffirming the government’s commitment to protecting the nation’s sovereignty.
Jaishankar strongly dismissed claims by some opposition parties such as Congress that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had encroached on Indian territory in excess of 1,000 sq km. He said it was those very parties that neglected infrastructure development in border areas in the belief that lack of connectivity would help slow down the progress of the Chinese army in the eventuality of an incursion.
The budget for border infrastructure had been increased to Rs 15,000 crore from just Rs 4,000 crore in 2014. Similarly, the pace of road building and tunneling had also tripled, he said.
Also read: S Jaishankar takes a jibe at Rahul Gandhi; says 'for him China is harmony, and India is discord'
Also read: 'No normal ties with China if...': Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar shares what Beijing must do to improve ties
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today