India: Situation with China fragile and dangerous in Himalayan region

Members of the Indian army guard a border post. Reuters

Indian Foreign Minister Subramaniam Jaishankar said yesterday that the situation between India and China in the Himalayan region of Ladakh is fragile and dangerous, with armed forces from both sides deployed in close proximity to each other in some areas.

At least 24 soldiers were killed in clashes between the two sides in the area in mid-2020, but rounds of diplomatic and military talks have calmed the situation.

Violence erupted in the eastern section of the unmarked border between the two nuclear-armed major Asian countries in December, but resulted in no deaths.

"In my opinion, the situation is still very fragile because there are places where our troops are deployed very close to each other, so in terms of military assessment the situation is very serious," Jaishankar told a forum for India Today.

He added that India-China relations cannot return to normal before the border dispute is resolved in line with the initial September 2020 agreement he reached with his Chinese counterpart.

"The Chinese have to fulfill what has been agreed, which they find difficult," he said.

He noted that although troops from both sides have withdrawn from many areas, there are ongoing discussions on unresolved matters.

"We have made it clear to the Chinese that we cannot accept the breach of peace and tranquility, and you cannot violate the agreement with the desire to continue the rest of the relations as if nothing had happened. That can't continue."

Jishankar said he had discussed the situation with his new Chinese counterpart Chen Gang on the sidelines of a meeting of G20 foreign ministers hosted by India this month.

Regarding India's presidency of the G20 this year, the minister expressed hope that New Delhi could make the forum "more committed to its global mandate".

"The G20 should not be just a discussion club or an arena for the northern hemisphere. All global concerns need to be accommodated. We have already made this point firmly clear."