External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that the violent clash between India and China in Ladakh in June left the relationship between the two countries “profoundly disturbed”, PTI reported.

Jaishankar added that the tense situation at the border marked a “sharp departure” in India-China ties over a period of 30 years. “So, from the conceptual level down to the behavioural level, there was an entire sort of framework out there,” Jaishankar said at a virtual event organised by the Asia Society.

He added: “Now, what we saw this year was a departure from this entire series of agreements. The massing of large amount of Chinese forces on the border was clearly contrary to all of this.”

Jaishankar said that the Galwan Valley clash on June 15 had a serious public and political impact. “To underline the enormity of that, it was the first military casualty we had after 1975,” Jaishankar said. “So what it has done is, it has obviously had a very deep public impact, very major political impact and it has left the relationship profoundly disturbed.”

He added: “And when you had friction points which have large number of troops at different points very close to each other, then something tragic like what happened on 15th of June happened.”

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Jaishankar said that China had a heavy military presence along the Line of Actual Control, which posed a “critical security challenge” to India.

The external affairs minister was asked why China had been accumulating troops at the border. “I haven’t frankly got any reasonable explanation from them on this matter,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. So, there are today [a] very large number of troops with weapons concentrated on that segment, the border, and that is obviously a very critical security challenge that we face.”

Jaishankar had said on Thursday that India and China were engaged in confidential talks to resolve the five-month-long border standoff. The seventh round of talks between the border commanders of India and China was held on October 12.

India-China tensions

Military heads of the two countries have engaged in several rounds of talks over the last three months after 20 Indian and unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed in violent clashes in Galwan Valley in Ladakh on June 15. But these talks have failed to break the impasse.

On Wednesday, Beijing said it does not recognise Indian sovereignty over Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, claiming that India had illegally occupied Ladakh. In response, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that China has no locus standi to comment on the matter. The ministry said Ladakh as well as Arunachal Pradesh are integral parts of India and this has been conveyed to the Chinese side on many occasions.

After the sixth round of military talks on September 22, India and China had resolved to stop sending more troops to the frontline amid the border standoff. Both countries also agreed to take practical measures to properly solve problems on the ground and ensure peace in the border areas, it added.

On September 10, S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. The two ministers agreed on a five-point plan to defuse tensions between the countries and said the current situation in the border areas of Ladakh was “not in the interest of either side”. They agreed, therefore, that the border troops of both sides should “continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions”.