Singapore, July 11: Amidst border issues over Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector between New Delhi and Beijing, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said India and China must not allow their differences to develop into disputes and there is no reason that the two countries cannot handle them this time.
While delivering a lecture to mark the 25th anniversary of India-ASEAN relationship in Singapore, Jaishankar said "It is a long border, as you know no part of the border has been agreed upon on the ground. It is likely that from time to time there are differences." The foreign secretary also said he was confident that India would handle the current standoff with China in the Doklam plateau.
Describing ties between India and China as multifaceted and complex, Jaishankar also noted that the complexity inherent in the simultaneous rise of two major powers, that too in close proximity to each other, has sparked off a big debate about the opportunities and risks that arise from such developments. “In a time of global uncertainty, India-China relations are a factor of stability and the Sino-Indian relationship had acquired many dimensions and that reducing it to black and white cannot be a serious proposition,” he added.
Jaishankar also stated that the differences on issues like terrorism, nuclear energy access and connectivity initiatives have acquired some prominence recently and added, "India has an alarming trade deficit which in our view emanates from obstacles to market access in China. Negotiations on the long-standing boundary dispute also still continue."
He emphasized that both countries must approach each other with strategic maturity as was shown by their leaders at their meeting on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. "Last month when leaders of two countries met in Astana, they reached consensus on two points one at a time of global uncertainty India-China relations are the factor of stability and two, in their relationship, India and China must not allow differences to become disputes," Jaishankar said.
While giving a lecture, Jaishankar at the end also highlighted how there has been a paradigm shift in strategic approaches of world powers saying, "the United States is in the process of redefining its strategic posture and not just in South East Asia, China's dramatic rise has repercussions that are still being evaluated, perhaps by China itself. Russia and U.K have re-prioritized their security interest, Japan seems to be displaying renewed interest and energies, ASEAN has itself expanded."
Notably, India and China have both maintained that troops from the other country had transgressed into their territory in the Sikkim sector’s Doklam area. Bilateral ties have been strained since the Indian Army stopped China from constructing a road in the region.
However, India has already made it clear that it will not allow China to construct a motorable road up to the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction through the Doklam plateau. The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathu La pass in Sikkim was also canceled due to border issues.