The India-China standoff has stretched for eight months because “agreements are not being observed”, said external affairs minister S Jaishankar.
During an online conversation with the Australian think tank Lowy Institute on Wednesday, Jaishankar said the Chinese have offered five different reasons for not sticking to their side of the peace deal. There has been violence at the India-China border since 1975 till the June clash in Galwan, which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers.
Jaishankar admitted that India-China ties have been “very significantly damaged” because of Beijing’s violation of agreements on maintaining peace and tranquility on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The external affairs minister said the Chinese violated all agreements and brought in tens of thousands of soldiers to the LAC in Ladakh sector.
“We are today probably at the most difficult phase of our relationship with China, certainly in the last 30 to 40 years…or even more,” he said, noting that the 20 Indian soldiers killed in the clash at Galwan Valley in June were the first military casualties on the LAC since 1975.
Jaishankar said that all the positives in bilateral ties over the past 30 years, including trade, tourism and travel, were a result of peace and tranquility in border areas while trying to solve the boundary question.
The external affairs minister said the two countries are a party to multiple agreements since 1993 that committed both parties not to bring large forces to the LAC. “Now for some reason, for which the Chinese have to date given us five differing explanations, the Chinese have violated it,” he told the Australian think tank.
Jaishankar did not sound very optimistic about improving ties with China, though he said communications between the two sides weren’t an issue. “I had spoken on phone with my Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and met him on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Moscow, while there were also meetings and contacts between the defence ministers, military commanders and diplomats,” said the minister.