External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said that Chinese aggression in Ladakh has impacted relations
External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said in London on Thursday that a large Chinese military amassed on the borders with India has impacted the growth of relations with China.
Jaishankar was speaking at an event, Policy Exchange, where he said: "Our relation with China has enormous possibilities, it also has significant challenges. I am afraid some of those challenges are on display right now. It is common sense that you can develop a relationship if it is free of tension and friction, if not actually coercion and conflict."
The minister was candid about India's tense relations with China, which nosedived exactly a year back after the latter crossed into the Indian border in eastern Ladakh. The confrontation also saw Chinese troops launch a medieval-style assault with clubs and rocks on Indian soldiers at the Galwan Valley in June 2020 in which dozens of soldiers perished on both sides. Relations have remained tense since then.
On a positive note the minister added that relations between the two Asian giants have enormous possibilities but significant challenges. He said: "As I said there are possibilities but even if those possibilities are to be realised, it has to be done on basis of mutual respect."
Using one of the key phrases - "peace and tranquillity" - from the border agreements that govern India-China relations, Jaishankar said peace and tranquillity on the border is "absolutely essential" for good relations with Beijing. "The relationship is going through a very difficult phase because in violation of agreements and understandings of many years, the Chinese have deployed a very large part of the military on/close to Line of Actual Control (LAC) without explanation."
The minister said: "...One cannot have friction, bloodshed, intimidation on the borders and then say let's have a good relationship in other domains."
Citing a positive note in the mutual relations, the minister said that he had requested Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to look into difficulties being faced by some Indian companies importing goods from China. Jaishankar added that things immediately moved after this conversation.
Jaishankar was in the UK on a four-day visit to meet up with the foreign ministers of the G-7 countries - the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. India was invited to the meeting as a guest country by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
India also took the opportunity to shore up relations with the UK which recently exited the European Union and is busy strengthening relations with other countries. This was the first face-to-face meeting of the G-7 foreign ministers in two years.