India and China ties going through 'extremely difficult phase'

Relations between the nuclear-armed nations have remained frosty since 2020

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands at the BRICS summit in Goa, India on October 16, 2016.  AP
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Ties between India and China are going through an “extremely difficult phase” because of a tense border standoff, Indian External Affairs Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar said, as he warned a frosty relationship between the two nations will impede regional growth.

Mr Jaishankar was at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand on Thursday when he spoke about the strained relationship between the nuclear-armed nations, and uncertainty over the future.

“The Asian century will be difficult to happen if India and China don’t come together. And one of the big questions today is where India-China relations are going,” Mr Jaishankar said.

“Because at the moment, the relationship is going through an extremely difficult phase because of what the Chinese have done in the last two years in our border areas,” he said.

Diplomatic relations between the nations have remained frosty since 2020 when at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed after soldiers from both sides fought in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, along the The Line of Actual Control, a notional demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.

Beijing said four soldiers were killed and both the nations mobilised tens of thousands of troops and military hardware to the rugged border.

New Delhi has maintained that Chinese troops entered its territory, a claim denied by Beijing.

It was the first such deadly encounter between the rival armies since 1962 when they fought a deadly war along the 3,500-kilometre disputed border.

Both the countries have since engaged in high-level diplomatic and military dialogues, the last being in July, to try to resolve the border standoff.

New Delhi has emphasized the need for complete disengagement on the border to normalise the bilateral relationship.

Mr Jaishankar, without naming Beijing, criticised its opposition to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, which China has termed as an Asian version of the Nato alliance.

The informal strategic grouping of the US, Japan, Australia and India is seen as a counterbalance to China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

The minister said it is the “most prominent plurilateral platform” in the Asia-Pacific region, and that the entire region will benefit from the alliance.

“We are confident that the entire Indo-Pacific region will benefit from its activities,” he said.

“If there are reservations in any quarter, these stem from a desire to exercise a veto on the choices of others. And possibly a unilateralist opposition to a collective and co-operative endeavours.”

Updated: August 19, 2022, 10:16 AM