EAM Jaishankar presses China for balanced and respectful ties

1 July, 2023 | Priya Rani

shankar National

Jaishankar's impassioned plea for a reset in India-China relations highlights the pressing need for mutual respect and adherence to agreements

India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, in his address on Friday at the Syama Prasad Lecture in Kolkata, titled “New India and the World,” emphasized on the importance of fostering a balanced and cooperative relationship with China.

Jaishankar urged China to recognize the need for a workable and mutually beneficial partnership, asserting that the present strain in bilateral ties was not India’s doing.

Jaishankar stressed that major countries can only maintain harmonious relations when they are based on mutual interest, sensitivity, and respect. He pointed out that China must come to understand this fundamental principle. The minister attributed the current downturn in relations to China’s violation of the 1993 and 1996 agreements by mobilizing forces along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“The present downturn in our ties was not our creation… It was created by China, it was created by China… violating two agreements of 1993 and 1996 and moving forces to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in violation of those agreements,” Jaishankar stated.

Highlighting the necessity of mutual efforts to sustain diplomatic relations, Jaishankar called on China to cease its unilateral attempts to alter the status quo.

“Now, if we are to have a decent relationship, I think…they need to observe those agreements, they need to stop trying to unilaterally change the status quo. They need to come to the understanding that relationships between major countries work only when they are based on mutual interest, mutual sensitivity, and mutual respect. They need to understand this. And my endeavour is to make them understand this,” said Jaishankar.

Jaishankar also pointed out that the most damaging actions undermining India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity were committed by China.

Jaishankar said, “What has hurt our interest more is the actual violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity… and that violation was by China. As I noted, this began in 1963 and kept increasing thereafter through connectivity initiatives. We later saw that developed into the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).”

The military standoff between India and China, which originated in April-May 2020, continues to persist with both nations heavily deploying troops in the border areas. India, concerned about potential misadventures from China, has stationed a significant number of troops in the Eastern Ladakh sector.

Earlier this week, on June 28, Jaishankar acknowledged the challenges in the India-China relationship, underscoring the abnormal state of the border as a critical factor affecting the overall ties. The minister attributed the current difficult phase to China’s departure from the agreed terms, emphasizing that the state of the border directly influences the state of the relationship.

“There has to be respect for each other’s interests, sensitivity for each other’s interests, and there has to be an adherence to agreements which were reached between us. And it is that departure from what was agreed between us, which is today at the heart of the difficult phase that we are passing through with China. And the bottom line there is at the end of the day, the state of the border will determine the state of the relationship. And the state of the border today is still abnormal,” said Jaishankar.

The entire address by EAM Jaishankar is available on his twitter handle: https://twitter.com/DrSJaishankar/status/1674756647246503936?s=20