The state of the relationship between India and China will reflect the state of the border, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday, referring to the lingering standoff in eastern Ladakh. He said it is not a realistic expectation to carry on with the relationship when there is a tense border and asserted that questions like why it happened and what does it reflect are completely legitimate.
“And as we have made clear — the state of the relationship, at the end of the day, will reflect the state of the border. You can’t have a tense, high-friction border and have great relations in all other parts of life. It does not work that way,” Jaishankar said. He was speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.
“It is inevitable that this will sort of spill over, it has already spilt over into other domains and the expectation that somehow we will contain it in a narrow sense and carry on with the rest of life, I think, is not a realistic one,” the external affairs minister said. “We do have a significant issue there for us and also for them, because I frankly don’t think it is in the interest of either country that our relationship goes off in this direction,” he added.
Referring to China bringing in forces to the border that triggered the row, Jaishankar said the neighbouring country violated commitments. “In terms of bringing forces to the border, it is not an impression that we had or we thought we had an understanding. We had it in cold print in two agreements. So there is no ambiguity on that score,” he said.
“There were very, very clear-cut commitments not to mass forces on the border and those commitments stand violated as of 2020 spring,” the minister said.
Asked about the situation in Afghanistan, he said the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2593 is an expression of widespread concern in the world on a set of issues. He said the most prominent of those is would the Afghan soil be used by terrorists and foreign fighters to target other countries. Also, the nature of the regime in Afghanistan, would it be inclusive, and the nature of governance, treatment of women, children and minorities, freedom of movement for Afghans, Jaishankar added. “I would say a lot of those concerns…remain live concerns,” he said.