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Diplomacy

Jaishankar Reiterates Abnormal Position at Border Standoff Despite China's Claims of Stability

A day earlier, the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers discussed the border stand-off at their second meeting this year in Benaulim, Goa on the sidelines of the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

New Delhi: After Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang reiterated that border situation is “generally stable”, Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar on Friday, May 5, reiterated that the boundary stand-off continues to show that there is an “abnormal position” along the boundary.

A day earlier, the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers discussed the border stand-off at their second meeting this year in Benaulim, Goa on the sidelines of the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The Chinese foreign ministry’s readout of the meeting issued on Friday said that the minister conveyed that the current state of affairs at the India-China border is “generally stable”, and both sides should strive towards further reducing tensions.

“Qin Gang pointed out that the China-India border situation is generally stable. The two sides should continue to implement the important common understandings reached between leaders of the two countries, consolidate existing outcomes, strictly abide by relevant agreements and protocols, work to ease and cool down the border situation, and maintain sustained peace and tranquility in the border areas,” said the communique.

Speaking at the post-SCO meeting media briefing, Jaishankar disagreed with his Chinese counterpart’s assessment. “I think the issue is that there is an abnormal position in border areas. We had a frank discussion about it”.

The Indian minister added, “We have to take the disengagement process forward. I have made it very clear, publicly as well, that India-China relations are not normal and cannot be normal if peace and tranquillity in the border areas are disturbed”.

Qin and Jaishankar engaged in talks for almost 70 minutes at the Taj Exotica in Goa before the commencement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s ministerial meeting on Thursday.

In a tweet by Jaishankar on Friday, the external affairs minister stated that they had a “detailed discussion” which focused “on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas”. The Indian minister’s tweet indicated that the discussion was a reiteration of the respective position on the border stand-off.

They also exchanged views on the multilateral forums they both participate in, namely the SCO, G-20, and BRICS.

The stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh has lasted for almost three years, leading to the first deaths at the border in four decades. 

Despite several rounds of talks at the military and foreign office levels, only four of the disputed points have been ‘de-escalated’ by creating buffer zones. The Chinese authorities have been hesitant to acknowledge that the remaining two points, Demchok and Depsang, are also part of the current border crisis, causing a stalemate in negotiations.

China have been stressing since September 2022 that the border crisis has largely been resolved, and they have been advocating for a “normalisation” of border management. This message was reiterated by Qin Gang during his first meeting with Jaishankar in March, also by Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu’s discussions with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh.

From Goa, the Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang flew directly to Pakistan for his first-ever visit after taking over his current post in March.