The violent clashes on the India-China border in June had a very deep public and political impact and has left the relationship “profoundly disturbed”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday (October 16).
Tensions had escalated manifold between India and China after the Galwan Valley clashes in eastern Ladakh on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed in action. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also suffered an unspecified number of casualties.
Jaishankar, while speaking at a virtual event hosted by the Asia Society, said that India has built the relationship with China over the course of last 30 years “and a basis for building that relationship has been peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control.”
He said there are multiple agreements, starting from 1993, which created the framework for that peace and tranquillity, which limited the military forces that came to the border areas, how to manage the border, how border troops behave when they approach each other.
“So, from the conceptual level down to the behavioural level, there was an entire sort of framework out there. Now, what we saw this year was a departure from this entire series of agreements. The massing of large amount of Chinese forces on the border was clearly contrary to all of this.
“And when you had friction point which was large number of troops at different points very close to each other, then something tragic like what happened on 15th of June happened,” he said.
“To underline the enormity of that, it was the first military casualty we had after 1975. So what it has done is, it has obviously had a very deep public impact, very major political impact and it has left the relationship profoundly disturbed,” S Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar said that apart from the Wuhan Summit in April 2018, there was a similar summit in Chennai last year and the idea of the summit was that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping spend time, talk to each other directly about their concerns.
“What happened this year of course was a very sharp departure. Now it”s not just a sharp departure from the conversation, it’s a sharp departure over a course of relationship over 30 years,” he said.
In response to a question on what did the Chinese actually do on the border and why they did it, S Jaishankar said: “I haven’t frankly got any reasonable explanation that I can tell myself from them on this matter. There are today a very large number of troops with weapons concentrated on that segment of the border and that is obviously a very critical security challenge that we face.”
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In the special Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) event, Jaishankar was in conversation with ASPI President Kevin Rudd, a former Australian prime minister.