Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has accused China, once again, of not abiding by the consensus reached during the different level meetings held after the border stand-off last April and stated that trust with Beijing has been "profoundly disturbed" after last year's events along the northern border in eastern Ladakh.
“The last loss of lives before 2020 was, in fact, as far back as 1975. That is why the events in eastern Ladakh last year have so profoundly disturbed the relationship. Because they not only signalled a disregard for commitments on minimising troops but also showed the willingness to breach the peace and tranquility. Significantly, today, we have yet to receive a credible explanation for the change in China’s stance or reasons for amassing troops at border,” Jaishankar said while addressing 13th All India Conference of China Studies in New Delhi on Thursday.
The minister mentioned the Galwan Valley hand-to-hand clash on 15-16 June last year in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
While underlining the ‘Astana consensus 2017’, the minister admitted that “Far from mitigating differences, the events of 2020 actually have actually put our relationship under exceptional stress.”
Jaishankar has highlighted eight objectives that may guide the relationships between the two countries including mutual respect and sensitivity to each other’s interests, concerns and aspirations.
“There are discussions underway through various mechanisms on disengagement at the border areas…India-China relationship, today, is truly at crossroads. Choices that are made will have profound repercussions not just for the two nations but for the entire world,” the minister said.
The statements came days after the Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army embroiled in a minor face-off at Naku La in Sikkim sector on 20 January. The issue was resolved at local commanders’ level but it provides enough evidence that the two sides continue to deploy massive military assets in icy winter which is unusual for the two Asian giants.
However, on January 24, at the 9th round of China-India Corps Commander-level meeting, the two sides agreed to push for an early disengagement of the frontline troops.
“The two sides agreed to continue their effective efforts in ensuring the restraint of the frontline troops, stabilise and control the situation along the LAC in the Western Sector of the China-India border, and jointly maintain peace and tranquillity,” the statement issued by the Indian foreign ministry reads.
India and China were involved in the first outbreak of gunfire at the Line of Actual Control in 40 years in September last year. The months long border stand-off erupted last April when the two sides accused each other of violating the border agreement.