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Mar 20, 2023

Jaishankar Says Xi’s G20 or SCO Summit Visits Can’t Be Linked to Disengagement in Ladakh

The external affairs minister said that disengagement is 'primarily a military-diplomatic process' run by military commanders and diplomats with maps, and should not be confused with summits and visits by President Xi as it is a different issue.
FILE IMAGE: S. Jaishankar at a 2022 event. Photo: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar

New Delhi: In an attempt to delink the ongoing border crisis with China from the two multilateral summits being hosted by India this year, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar has said that the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to New Delhi for the G20 and SCO summits should not be linked with any opportunity for military disengagement by the People’s Liberation Army from the border areas in eastern Ladakh.

The SCO or Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit is scheduled to be held in June while the G20 summit will be held in September. India holds the rotational presidency of both the groupings which have China as a member.

Jaishankar refused to state if President Xi’s participation in either or both summits has been confirmed. The Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang had visited New Delhi for the meeting of G20 foreign ministers earlier this month where a joint communique could not be issued after Russia and China objected to two paragraphs in the draft on the Ukraine war.

Responding to a question at the India Today Conclave on Saturday, March 18, on whether the SCO and G20 summits provide an opportunity to push through disengagement along the LAC that India has failed to achieve so far, Jaishankar said, “Let’s not mix apples and oranges”. He argued that disengagement is “primarily a military-diplomatic process” run by military commanders and diplomats with maps, and should not be confused with summits and visits by President Xi as it is a different issue.

He however added his oft-repeated line that “if the current state of affairs continues (with China), relationship between us will not be normal”.

Strategic analyst Brahma Chellaney asked on Twitter, “How does one explain China’s trade surplus with India jumping nearly 50% in 2022? Isn’t India letting China reap rewards of aggression? Thanks to China’s ballooning trade surplus since it launched its still-ongoing border aggression in April 2020, the Indian trade deficit with China alone now accounts for about 64% of India’s total global trade deficit.”

A participation in a multilateral summit in Delhi would be a sign of normalcy in ties, and is considered as a card to be used by India based on an earlier precedent. After the Doklam crisis in 2017, as then foreign secretary, S. Jaishankar had told parliamentary standing committee that the crisis was resolved because of annual BRICS (involving Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit scheduled to be held in the coastal Chinese city of Xiamen.

He had noted that the looming BRICS Summit on September 4-5 was a self-imposed deadline as “neither side wish to see their leaders meeting in Xiamen under the cloud of Doklamincident…” After the disengagement, while Indian soldiers returned to their posts, the Chinese constructed massive infrastructure and deployed troops barely a couple of hundred metres away from the standoff site.

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