New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar referred to China as a ‘significant neighbour’ to India and emphasised the need for mutual respect and adherence to agreements to maintain a healthy relationship.
Speaking at the India International Centre, he acknowledged the challenges in the India-China relationship, stating that the abnormal state of the border remains a key factor in shaping the overall relationship.
“The difficult one on the big stage has obviously been China. And I would say it’s a subject on which I have spoken and spoken publicly before. At the end of the day, for us, we recognize it’s a neighbour, it’s a big neighbour. It’s today a very significant economy and significant power. But at the end of the day, any relationship has to be based on a high degree of mutuality,” he said.
“There has to be respect for each other’s interests, sensitivity for each other’s interests, and there has to be an adherence to agreements which were reached between us. And it is that departure from what was agreed between us, which is today at the heart of the difficult phase that we are passing through with China. And the bottom line there is at the end of the day, the state of the border will determine the state of the relationship. And the state of the border today is still abnormal,” Jaishankar said.
Giving a sharp contrast between India’s ties with China and that with the US, Jaishankar said relations with the latter have been “exceptionally good”. Jaishankar cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent maiden state visit to the US, and said it was the most productive visit by an Indian Prime Minister.
“Today, it’s a very polarised world, and the global stage is so much more challenging… Our relations with the United States are exceptionally well. We have had the most productive visit in history,” he said.
“We have moved into a positive domain with the US for shaping the world for common purposes. The attention being given to Europe is remarkable… The big issue before us is concluding the Free Trade Agreement… We are more hopeful than ever before,” EAM added.
On India’s relationship with Russia, Jaishankar said that it has been very good and it would be a “mistake” to reduce its importance.
“Our relations with Russia have been kept steady despite all turbulence. We have made our own evaluation over the years regarding the importance of this. It is a mistake to dumb down ties with Russia to just defence dependences. We have an upswing in the economic part of our relations with Russia,” he said.