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'We Can't Let Our Guard Down': India Faltered in Handling China Border Row - Ex-Foreign Minister

© AFP 2023 / BIJU BOROIndian Army personnel keep vigilance at Bumla pass on the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh on 21 October 2012
Indian Army personnel keep vigilance at Bumla pass on the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh on 21 October 2012 - Sputnik International
India and China have been talking ways and means to diffuse tensions along their border in Ladakh since the violent faceoff in June. The last engagement between the two countries was between Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Moscow on 10 September.

Former Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha believes New Delhi has faltered in handling the border standoff with China, which has been ongoing since April.

Sinha told Sputnik that India's government should have been firm on its position on border issues with China, instead of adopting a kid-glove approach. 

Claiming to have information that China had occupied almost 1,000 square kilometres of Indian Territory since May of this year, he said: “We should have been constantly on alert, knowing China’s nature and history all along.”

“We cannot let our guard down. This is what we did in the name of COVID in Ladakh. The result is Chinese were able to enter our territory and they are holding on to that,” he said.

The former cabinet minister was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who according to him, had a record number of meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, “but could not get any concessions from him”.

“China has not agreed to any issue that we raised with them; even at the summit level they have not given in on any issue – so India remains outside the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group). China is not permitting India become a member of the Security Council. China resisted declaring Masood Azhar as an international terrorist as long as it could,” pointed out Sinha.

New Delhi believess Mazood Azhar, head of the Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammad, is the brain behind several deadly militant attacks in the country, including the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the 2019 Pulwama attack in Kashmir, which left over 40 soldiers dead.

India and China have a long-standing territorial dispute, mainly in Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing considers part of Tibet, and in Ladakh.

THe foreign ministers of both the countries held talks in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting on 10 September. They agreed to a five-point formula to resolve the ongoing tension along the border in eastern Ladakh.

But Sinha, the former federal minister, expressed scepticism over boundary talks with China. He said both sides had hardly made any progress in 22 rounds of talks at the level of special representatives.

“China is not interested in any progress. They want the border to remain unmapped so that they can slice away parts of territories that they want. That is the basic factor we must understand, that China will never settle the border issue with India until it grabs all the territory it wants to grab. Therefore, by default, we must be able to protect our territorial integrity,” asserted Sinha.

India and China, which both have nuclear weapons, share a 3,500-kilometre (2,175-mile) border, known as the LAC. It stretches from the Ladakh region in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim. In eastern Ladakh, it passes through Pangong Lake.

Sinha was a key member in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet. He held two important portfolios – Finance (1998-2002) and External Affairs (2002-2004). However, when Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, he was kept out of the government and the party’s national leadership, along with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veterans like Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.

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