India has to be 'patient but persevering' on China: EAM Jaishankar

New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) Asserting that India has a ‘very challenging’ and ‘competitive neighbour’ in China, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar said on Saturday that New Delhi needs to be patient but persevering while dealing with the East Asian nation.

Speaking at a media conclave, the Minister agreed that the relationship became much more complicated after 2020 but said that “it was building up over a period of time”.

“I agree (that) since 2020, the relationship has become much more complicated. I accept that. But it was building up over a period of time… We weren’t honest about it even to ourselves. We weren’t really articulating it, and frankly, even strategising accordingly,” Jaishankar added.

On being asked how he intends to tackle the challenge as the country gears up for its April-May general elections, the EAM said that the first thing India needs to do vis-a-vis China is to “stop pretending that everything is nice, stop being worried to express what we feel, and stop using terminology, which doesn’t work for us”.

“The first thing is we’ve got to recognise today that we have a very challenging, competitive neighbour. There are serious issues… over a period of time in our history. Many of those issues have not been resolved, some have aggravated,” the Minister added.

He further highlighted that in addition to boundary issues, the two nations have major economic issues as well, and while dealing with China, “you got to have an economy which is geared up for it”.

Following the June 2020 clash of troops in Galwan Valley, India and China have held several rounds of military talks, seeking complete disengagement in the areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh as a basis for restoring peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

Army Chief General Manoj Pande has called the situation along the LAC “stable” but “sensitive,” adding that the Indian troops have been maintaining a “very high state” of operational preparedness to deal with eventualities.

As a counter-deployment, India has amassed a large number of troops along the LAC to guard the strategically important India-China border.

EAM Jaishankar told the media conclave that the focus in the military discussions has been on disengagement, followed by de-escalation.

“… there are all the dangers associated with that. Both of us are very forward-deployed. This is not where, in the last many decades, was a natural deployment,” he said.

“… when you are deployed that close-up, there are patrolling issues, obstruction issues, workaround issues — all of which add up to very complicated metrics,” he said, adding that it “clearly is something where we have to be patient but also very persevering”.



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