“Peace and tranquillity in the border areas clearly remain the basis for normal relations.”: MEA Jaishankar on China

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar spoke on the topic of “China’s foreign policy and international relations in the new era.”

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At a conference hosted by the Centre for Contemporary China Studies (CCCS), External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar spoke on the topic of “China’s foreign policy and international relations in the new era.”

Jaishankar stated that even though it has occasionally been “mischievously conflated,” maintaining peace and tranquilly along the border between India and China remains the foundation for normal ties.

The remarks were made in the context of the protracted military standoff in the Ladakh sector. Jaishankar has argued recently that until there is calm and stability along the Line of Actual Control, the relationship with China as a whole cannot be normalised (LAC).

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He emphasised India’s preparedness to “compete more effectively, especially in our immediate periphery”. “On the international stage, building deeper relationships and promoting a better understanding of India’s interests strengthens the country”, he added.

“Peace and tranquillity in the border areas clearly remain the basis for normal relations. From time to time, this has been mischievously conflated with the sorting out of the boundary question,” Jaishankar said.

“The truth is that the prerequisite has been and remains one much more modest, and even that was breached in 2020,” he said, mentioning to the mass deployment of troops on the LAC by China and efforts to change the status quo in the border areas.

India’s search for a “more balanced and stable relationship” with China stretches across “multiple domains and many options”. He said: “Given the developments of 2020, they obviously focus on an effective defence of the border. This was notably undertaken even in the midst of Covid.”

Mentioning that the two countries must display the willingness to take a long-term view of their ties, he said: “Establishing a modus vivendi between India and China after 2020 is not easy. Yet, it is a task that cannot be set aside. And this can only become sustainable on the basis of three mutuals: mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interest.”

He added, “The last few years have been a period of serious challenge, both for the relationship and for the prospects of the continent. The continuation of the current impasse will not benefit either India or China. New normals of posture will inevitably lead to new normals of responses.”

Looking back at seven decades of engagement with China, Jaishankar said it would be fair to state that India had “essentially taken a determinedly bilateral approach” and there were many reasons for this, including a “sense of Asian solidarity and a suspicion of third party interests that emanated from other experiences”.

Indian policy in the past exhibited a “remarkable degree of self-restraint” that led to the expectation that “others can have a veto over its choices”, he said. “That period, however, is now behind us. The ‘new era’ is apparently not just for China,” Jaishankar said.

While highlighting the differences between India and China, he claimed that the problem lies in the structural gaps that have grown over the previous 60 years. The Cumulative Border Balance (CBB) and Comprehensive National Power (CNP) are two broad criteria for these, he explained.

“Any objective analysis of the relationship must necessarily take both into account, recognising that there is a linkage between them,” he said.

In the economic field, progress in expanding manufacturing and promoting Atmanirbhar Bharat is key, Jaishankar said.

 

Inputs from Hindustan Times.