China ties ‘never been easy’, ‘very abnormal’ since Galwan clash: EAM

Dr Jaishankar says there has been a certain degree of ambiguity while dealing with China

NEW DELHI | Updated: 27 September, 2023 6:06 pm IST
No military combat fatalities on India-China border since 1975: EAM Jaishankar highlights diplomatic relations

NEW DELHI: External affairs minister Dr. S Jaishankar has said that India’s relationship with China has “never been easy” and has been “very abnormal” since the deadly Galwan Valley clashes in 2020.

Speaking at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Dr Jaishankar said, “For the last three years, there has been an abnormal state, contacts have been disrupted, visits have not taken place, and there have been high levels of military tensions.”

“It has also impacted the perception of China in India. This perception was not positive in the 1960s and 1970s. I think there is an immediate issue, a medium-term issue, and possibly a long-term issue.”

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He also raised concerns about China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean, saying, “Last 20-25 years, there has been a steady increase in the Chinese naval presence and activity in the Indian Ocean, but there has been a very sharp increase in the size of Chinese naval power.”

“When you have a very much bigger navy, that navy is going to be visible in terms of its deployment somewhere. We obviously do watch many of them very carefully for any security implications… From an Indian point of view, it’s very reasonable for us to prepare for a far greater Chinese presence than we have seen before.”

In his address to the 78th United Nations General Assembly on September 26, Jaishankar stressed on the importance of respecting territorial integrity, saying no country should be able to change the status quo by force or coercion – a reference to the ongoing border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

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“This is a principle that is essential to upholding international law and order. It is especially important for small and developing countries,” he said.

Jaishankar’s comments come amid a protracted standoff between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the two countries. The standoff began in May 2020 when Chinese troops crossed the LAC and occupied territory in the Galwan Valley. Since then, there have been several clashes between Indian and Chinese troops, including the deadly Galwan clash in June 2020, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.

Despite several rounds of talks, India and China have been unable to resolve the standoff. In the meantime, both sides have deployed large numbers of troops and heavy weaponry along the LAC.

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