Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar on Thursday said that the face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Eastern Ladakh showed Beijing’s willingness to breach peace. He added that the loss of lives on the border profoundly disturbed the bilateral ties between the two countries.
Jaishankar made the remark while addressing the 13th All India Conference of China Studies. The foreign minister noted that even though there had been some disagreements between the two countries, the border areas had remained peaceful before 2020. “Last loss of life at India-China border before 2020 [a reference to the Galwan Valley clash] was as far back as 1975,” he said.
The foreign minister added: “The events in Eastern Ladakh last year have so profoundly disturbed the relationship because they not only signaled a disregard for commitments about minimising troop levels but also showed a willingness to breach peace and tranquility.”
Jaishankar said that the relationship between India and China was at crossroads, and the choices made amid the border tensions will have profound global repercussions.
India and China have held several rounds of military talks in an attempt to resolve the border tensions. The ninth round of Corps Commander-level were held on Sunday, with the defence ministry saying they were “positive, practical and constructive”.
Significantly, the meeting took place just two days after fresh clashes erupted between troops of the two sides on January 22, along the Line of Actual Control near Naku La in Sikkim. The Indian Army, however, maintained that the matter was “resolved by local commanders as per established protocols”.
The standoff between India and China has continued since the clashes in Eastern Ladakh in June that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. China is also believed to have suffered casualties, but has not given any details. Both India and China have accused each other of crossing into rival territory and of firing shots for the first time in 45 years.