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Peace at LAC Essential for India-China Relations: Jaishankar

India
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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar stated on Saturday that improving India-China relations requires peace and quiet along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Beijing’s adherence to border management agreements.

During an interactive session at a think tank, Jaishankar stated that the government has been concentrating on strengthening infrastructure in border areas. In order to effectively meet China’s challenges, he also emphasized the need for India to develop strong national capabilities, particularly in supply chains and technology.

He went on to say that India and China’s relations would eventually need to find equilibrium.

A military standoff triggered by skirmishes in the Ladakh sector of the LAC is set to enter its fifth year in May. Both countries have arrayed more than 50,000 troops each in this region and major “friction points” such as Depsang and Demchok remain despite dozens of rounds of diplomatic and military talks.

“It is a combination of all of this, but the bottom line is there has to be an equilibrium, and there has to be peace and tranquillity in the border areas, and there has to be adherence to the agreements which were arrived at,” Jaishankar said.

“Because if you do not adhere to the agreements, tell me how you would have even the basic understanding. And going forward if there isn’t peace and tranquillity at the border, how can any society look at other forms of cooperation when the border is disturbed or violent,” he added.

“And there has to eventually be an equilibrium, I am convinced it will. I am convinced we have to work hard for that equilibrium.”

In an apparent reference to previous governments, while responding to a question on dealing with China, he said India had not used international relationships as effectively as it could have in the past.

He identified the development of national power as very crucial in this regard.

“Powers rise, powers stand their ground, powers build equilibrium, not by fancy statements and clever debates. They have to do hard work of governance, putting the resources, push the system, deliver on the ground, monitor it, supervise it and have relationships which will contribute to it,” he said.

Jaishankar said the current government has significantly enhanced infrastructure in border regions in the past decade.

“In the China border areas, our budgetary commitment till 2014 was below Rs.4,000 crore. Today, it is three-and-half, four times that,” he said, adding there has been a rapid increase in the building of roads, tunnels and bridges in these areas.

Jaishankar also pointed to India’s efforts to compete with China in the realm of technology and cited the development of 5G telecom services as an example.

“We talk about their exporting staff into India…The answer is to compete. We did not compete against 4G, 3G [and] 2G. But you decided to compete on 5G. When you decided to compete on 5G, you proved to yourself you could do it,” he said.

The government has maintained that without peace along the LAC, relations with China cannot be normalized. China, on the other hand, has argued that while relations are improved in areas like trade, the border dispute should be placed in its “appropriate place.”

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