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India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S Jaishankar said on Sunday that the China’s disregard for border agreements is leading to friction between the two Asian giants.
“We are going through a very difficult phase mainly because we have agreements with China going back to the 1990s, which prohibit bringing mass troops in the border area,” the EAM said in Sao Paolo, Brazil. “They have disregarded that. You know what happened in the Galwan valley.” Jaishankar was referring to the standoff between the two countries in the the Himalayan region of eastern Ladakh.
Beginning on 5 May 2020, Chinese and Indian troops engaged in aggressive melee, face-offs, and skirmishes at locations along the Sino-Indian border, including near the disputed Pangong Lake in Ladakh and the Tibet Autonomous Region, and near the border between Sikkim and the Tibet Autonomous Region. Additional clashes also took place at locations in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Eastern Ladakh has been the flashpoint between India and China for decades, but it is only after May 2020 that the escalation has reached levels never seen after the war between the two countries in 1962. Both sides have so far held 16 rounds of Corps Commander Level talks to break the logjam.
Jaishankar, who is on his first trip to Brazil as the EAM, said, “That problem has not been resolved and it is clearly casting a shadow. They are our neighbours. Everybody wants to get along with their neighbour. In personal life and country-wise as well. But everybody wants to get along with on reasonable terms. I must respect you. You must respect me,” he said.
In September 2020, China’s foreign ministry issued a statement that effectively put a brake on India’s reconciliation efforts. “China does not recognize the so-called Union Territory of Ladakh illegally established by India, and opposes infrastructure construction in disputed border areas for military control purposes,” the ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said. “According to the recent consensus reached between China and India, neither side should take any actions in border areas that would complicate the situation, so as not to affect the efforts of both sides to ease the situation.”
Jaishankar said that from India’s point of view, “We have been very clear that we have to build the relationship and there has to be mutual respect. Each one will have their interests and we need to be sensitive to what the concerns are for others for a relationship to be built.”
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