Hitting out at China for its “willingness to breach peace”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that “events in eastern Ladakh last year have profoundly disturbed the relationship” between the two countries.
Speaking at the 13th All India Conference of China Studies, Jaishankar said, “They (events in Ladakh) not only signalled disregard for commitments on minimising troops but also showed willingness to breach peace.”
“We are yet to receive credible explanation for change in China’s stance and massing of troops in border areas,” he added.
The minister’s remark comes days after Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a fresh clash in Naku La in Sikkim on January 20. Sources mentioned that some troops sustained minor injuries during the brawl. The incident happened as Indian troops stopped a Chinese patrolling party in the region.
The minister stressed that the events of 2020 have put the ties between the two countries under “exceptional stress”. “Issue before us is what Chinese posture signals, how it evolves, what implications it may have for future of ties: Jaishankar on standoff,” Jaishankar said.
“Development of ties can only be based on mutuality such as mutual respect, mutual sensitivity, mutual interest,” he said, adding that it is not realistic to expect to carry on with the normal life when the situation at the border is tense.
“Peace in border areas basis for overall development of ties with China. If it is disturbed, so inevitably is rest of relationship,” Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar reiterated India’s stand that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) must be strictly observed and respected. “Any attempt to unilaterally change status quo is completely unacceptable,” he said.
“Agreements already reached must be adhered to in their entirety, both in letter and spirit,” he added.
“India-China relationship is at crossroads. Choices that are made will have profound repercussions not just for two nations but for the world,” he added.
On January 24, military commanders from India and China met for the ninth round of talks to discuss a possible solution to the nearly nine-month border standoff in eastern Ladakh.
The latest effort came two-and-a-half months after the last round of discussions between the two sides on November 6, with around 50,000 troops deployed in the region, along with additional artillery, tanks, and air defence assets.
(With inputs from PTI)