India and China have handled their border issues in the past and there is no reason why they will not be able to deal with them this time, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said in Singapore on Tuesday amid the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the Sikkim Sector. “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,” Jaishankar said while responding to questions on the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector at a lecture on ‘India-ASEAN and the Changing Geopolitics’.
The lecture was organised by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the Indian High Commission. Underlining that this was not the first time that China and India have had border differences, Jaishankar said, “When such situations arise, I see no reason, when having handled so many situations in the past, we would not be able to handle it.”
China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-junction for over three weeks after a Chinese Army’s construction party attempted to build a road.
Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region. Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.
In his lecture, Jaishankar pointed out that “in this changing landscape, few would dispute that the evolving India-China relationship has a direct implication for ASEAN, for the larger Asia Pacific, and perhaps even globally.”
“We are all aware by now of the complexity inherent in the rise of two major powers near simultaneously, that too in close proximity. That the powers in question are civilisational ones, with positive far history and difficult near history, adds to the challenge,” he said.
“The big debate is about the opportunities and risks that emanate from this twin rise. Skewing the analysis in the direction of one at the expense of the other could mislead us.
“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.
It is not only that India and China have stakes in each other; the world and especially ASEAN has a vested interest in this matter, he said. He also touched upon the changes underway in India, saying “these are deeper and broader”.
“A very determined effort is being made to expand manufacturing, transform infrastructure and enhance the quality of human resources. The formalisation of the economy is also being accelerated, as indeed is the removal of impediments to its efficiency,” he said. “It is highlighted by a commitment to make it easier to do business,” Jaishankar said.