In the backdrop of India-China standoff near India-Bhutan-China tri-junction, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar Tuesday stressed that differences should not become disputes between the neighbours.
“In truth, the India-China relationship by now has acquired so many dimensions, and so much substance , that reducing it to black and white argumentation cannot be a serious proposition,” he said in a lecture to mark 25 years of India-ASEAN ties in Singapore.
Jaishankar cited last month’s meeting between PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Astana, Kazakhstan, to stress the dictum to deal with issues between the two countries. “India-China relations are really multi-faceted,” he said. “Last month, when leaders of the two countries met at Astana, they reached consensus on two key points: (a) that at a time of global uncertainty, India-China relations are a factor of stability, and (b) in their relationship, India and China must not allow differences to become disputes. This consensus underlines the strategic maturity with which the two countries must continue to approach each other.”
Although Jaishankar did not refer to the current military standoff in Sikkim sector, he acknowledged that both countries have differences on a host of issues. “This is not to suggest that old problems have been all addressed, or that new issues will not arise,” he said. “India has an alarming trade deficit that, in our view, emanates from obstacles to market access in China. Negotiations on the longstanding boundary dispute also still continue. Differences on issues such as terrorism, nuclear energy access and connectivity initiatives have also acquired some prominence.”
Jaishankar’s attempt to remind the understanding of not escalating differences to dispute-level appeared an attempt to strike a conciliatory note to allow elbow room for a diplomatic resolution.