Noting that the Galwan Valley clash last year between Indian and Chinese forces took bilateral ties in a “completely different direction”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday that the challenge of how to manage relationship with China ranks “very, very high” in India.
“Very serious clash in June last year in which a lot of lives were lost took the relationship in a completely different direction. In India, the challenge of how to manage our relationship with China ranks very very high,” Jaishankar said.
He was speaking virtually at the Australian National University’s JG Crawford Oration 2021 on Monday.
Twenty Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese troops lost their lives in a violent face-off in the Galwan Valley on June 15-16 last year when Chinese troops attempted to unilaterally change the status quo during the de-escalation in eastern Ladakh following tensions along the Line of Actual Control.
The minister said that after 1975 when there was a relatively small clash between Indian and Chinese forces, there were no fatalities on the border.
“Yet what we saw last year was a complete departure. There was a very large Chinese military presence in very operational mode at the border without a good reason,” he said.
“PM Rajiv Gandhi went to China in 1988, built our relationship predicated on the fact that the border would be peaceful and tranquil. We did that by a series of agreements which built confidence, which said don’t bring your military to the border,” he added.
Jaishankar also said the days of unilateralism were over, bilateralism has its own limits and multilateralism is simply not working well enough. “Resistance to reforming international organizations compels us to look for more practical and immediate solutions. That is the case for Quad.”