Even as the Indian and Chinese armies face off in eastern Ladakh, foreign minister S Jaishankar set out an eight-point framework for steps China needs to take to repair bilateral ties with India, which, he said, cannot carry on “undisturbed”.
Delivering the keynote address at the All India Conference of China Studies, Jaishankar said the fundamental principles governing India-China ties should be “mutuality.” “The three mutuals–mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests–are its determining factors. Any expectation that they can be brushed aside, and that life can carry on undisturbed despite the situation at the border, that is simply not realistic.”
Offering a way forward to repairing bilateral ties, Jaishankar proposed an eight-point set of markers that should be followed by both countries, but more specifically, China. Existing agreements, he said, “must be adhered to in their entirety, both in letter and spirit.” Unilateral change of status quo at the LAC should be unacceptable and “the LAC must be strictly observed and respected.” Also, an understanding that disturbing peace and tranquillity on the border would upset the rest of the relationship between the two countries.
Jaishankar confirmed that India and China were engaged in talks to work out a disengagement mechanism in the border areas.
He said, “It was explicitly agreed the two countries would refrain from massing troops on their common border”; the acceptance of a “multipolar Asia”; sensitivities to each other’s interests; making space for the other’s aspirations; management of differences and as civilisationals states, “taking the long view.” He placed the onus on the Chinese side for changing the status quo.