India’s foreign minister says ties with China cannot be normal as long as there is a huge deployment of troops along their disputed border.
After a three-hour meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in New Delhi, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told a news briefing on Friday that frictions and tensions on the border cannot be reconciled with normal relations.
Yi arrived in the city unannounced on Thursday, the most senior Chinese official to visit India since border clashes in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh in June 2020 led to a sharp deterioration in relations between the Asian giants.
The Chinese top diplomat also met India’s powerful national security adviser, Ajit Doval.
Neither side had announced the visit before Wang landed in New Delhi late on Thursday. Footage from the Reuters’ India partner ANI showed him coming out of the commercial airport rather than the defence facility nearby where most foreign dignitaries land.
Jaishankar noted in a speech on Thursday the deterioration in ties and stressed the importance of the coordination of foreign and defence policies, which he said were “joined at the hip”.
“Few would have anticipated … the turn that India’s relations with China have taken in the last two years,” he said.
“Any prudent policy therefore backs its posture with capabilities and deterrence. A big responsibility of Indian diplomacy, therefore, is to create the widest set of options for such contingencies.”
Wang drew a rebuke from the Indian government ahead of his trip for remarks made in Pakistan this week on the disputed Kashmir region. India and Pakistan rule Muslim-majority Kashmir in part but claim in full, and China has generally stood by its close ally Pakistan.
Relations between China and India worsened after a June 2020 border clash in the Ladakh region of Indian-administered Kashmir killed at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers.