Bangkok:External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday that India-China relations were going through an “extremely difficult phase” after what Beijing did on the border and stressed that the Asian century would not happen if the two neighbors could not shake hands.
Jaishankar made the remarks while answering a series of questions after delivering a lecture on “The Indian Vision of the Indo-Pacific” at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University.
Responding to a question, Jaishankar said the Asian Century will happen when China and India come together, but the Asian Century will be difficult to achieve if India and China cannot come together.
“Right now (the India-China relationship) is going through an extremely difficult phase after what China has done on the border,” he said.
Chinese and Indian troops are engaged in a protracted stalemate in eastern Ladakh. The two sides have so far held 16 rounds of corps commander-level talks to resolve the standoff that erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake areas.
“I think if India and China are to unite, there are many reasons to do so, not necessarily only Sri Lanka,” he said, adding that it is in the interest of India and China to unite.
“We very much hope that wisdom dawns on the Chinese side,” he said, answering another question from the audience.
Jaishankar said India had done its best to help Sri Lanka. This year alone, India has provided $3.8 billion in support to Sri Lanka, including a line of credit and swap deals, he said.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis that has led to severe shortages of fuel and other essentials. The Sri Lankan government is negotiating a rescue plan with the IMF.
“Any help we can give to Sri Lanka at the IMF, we will naturally do that,” Jaishankar said.
On the issue of Rohingya refugees, he said the issue had been discussed with Bangladesh. “What matters to them is repatriation. We supported Bangladesh,” he said. Currently, Bangladesh hosts more than one million Rohingya refugees, who fled Myanmar following a military operation against them a few years ago.
Responding to another question, Jaishankar dismissed criticism of cheap Russian oil imports, saying India was not the only oil importing country. The United States and European countries have imposed heavy sanctions on Russia since Moscow sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.
India increased oil imports from Russia after the Ukraine war despite criticism from the west and continues to engage with Moscow on business. Jaishankar, who arrived here on Tuesday, co-chaired the 9th meeting of India-Thailand Joint Commission with his Thai counterpart and Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinai Wednesday during which they discussed the progress of bilateral contacts in political, economic, security and defence, connectivity and health. – NDTV