India to China: Normalization of troops deployment imperative for restoring ties

Kuala Lumpur/New Delhi: Amid the continuing deadlock on the Ladakh border, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar sent a pointed message to Beijing, saying that normalizing ties with China depends on restoring conventional troops deployment along the LAC.

While engaging with the Indian diaspora in Kuala Lumpur, Jaishankar underscored the criticality of securing India’s borders. “My first duty to Indians is to secure the border. I can never compromise on that,” he said, thereby encapsulating India’s uncompromising stance regarding its territorial integrity.

Attaining a state of normalcy in bilateral relations with China hinges on adhering to the tradition of maintaining troop deployments at a distance from the LAC demarcation, he said. Jaishankar also emphasized India’s commitment to transparency and honesty in its dealings with China regarding these matters.

“We’re still negotiating with the Chinese. I talk to my counterpart. We meet from time to time. Our military commanders negotiate with each other. But we are very clear that we had an agreement. There is a Line of Actual Control. We have a tradition of not bringing troops to that line. Both of us have bases some distance away, which is our traditional deployment place. And we want that normalcy,” he said.

He also acknowledged the complexities inherent in the India-China relationship, notably the persistent boundary dispute. Despite this, Jaishankar highlighted past agreements that had provided stability to the relationship, enabling progress in other domains. “Every country wants good relations with its neighbours. Who doesn’t? But every relationship has to be founded on some basis,” he said.

Mr Jaishankar deplored the breach of these agreements in 2020, which led to violent clashes along the border, marking a significant downturn in bilateral ties. The Galwan Valley clash in June 2020, described as the most severe confrontation between the troops of the two Asian powers in over four decades, served as a sobering reminder of the fragility of the India-China relationship.

In February, the two countries concluded the 21st round of India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point. The discussions centred around complete disengagement in the remaining areas along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh as an essential basis for restoring peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas.

Right after this, in March, India redeployed nearly 10,000 soldiers from its western border to reinforce its positions along the LAC with China in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. India faulted China’s breach of long-standing written agreements for the current border turmoil. The two countries have been engaging in a verbal duel on many occasions since then.

Jaishankar’s recent remarks underscore the importance of adhering to established protocols and agreements to de-escalate tensions and foster a constructive dialogue between India and China. However, the path to normalization remains fraught with challenges, requiring China to exhibit restraint, transparency, and a willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve the differences peacefully.

(Deepakshi Bhardwaj contributed inputs for this article)


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