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China must adhere to border management pacts and there has to be peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for improvement in Sino-India ties, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar asserted on Saturday amid the lingering military face-off in eastern Ladakh.

In an interactive session at a think-tank, he highlighted how the Modi government has been focusing on boosting the border infrastructure and that there has to be an equilibrium eventually in the relations between India and China.

In an oblique reference to governments in the past, Mr Jaishankar, replying to a broad question on dealing with China, said India did not use international relationships as effectively as it could have in the past.

In this context, Mr Jaishankar identified development of national power as very crucial.

“Powers rise, powers stand their ground, powers build equilibrium; not by fancy statements and clever debates. They have to do hard work of governance, putting the resources, push the system, deliver on the ground, monitor it, supervise it and have relationships which will contribute to it,” he said.

The Indian and Chinese troops are locked in an over three-and-half-year confrontation in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement from several areas following extensive diplomatic and military talks.

The external affairs minister underlined the need for India to build deep national strength including in areas of technology and supply chains to effectively face challenges from China.

“It is a combination of all of this but the bottomline is there has to be an equilibrium and there has to be peace and tranquillity in the border areas and there has to be adherence to the agreements which were arrived at,” Mr Jaishankar said at the Ananta Aspen Centre.

“Because if you do not adhere to the agreements, tell me how you would have even the basic understanding and going forward, if there isn’t peace and tranquillity at the border, how can any society look at other forms of cooperation when the border is disturbed or violent,” he said.

“And there has to eventually be an equilibrium, I am convinced it will. I am convinced we have to work hard for that equilibrium,” he said.

Mr Jaishankar said the Modi government has significantly enhanced the border infrastructure in the last 10 years.

“On the China border areas, our budgetary commitment till 2014 was below ? 4000 crore. Today it is three-and-half, four times of that,” he said, adding there is a rapid increase in building of roads, tunnels and bridges in the frontier regions.

“If it was possible to do it in the last 10 years, why was it not possible to do it earlier,” he said.

The external affairs minister also cited how India is now giving competition to China in areas of technology and cited development of 5G telecom services as an example.

“We talk about their exporting staff into India. Obviously they will try their best. The answer is to compete. We did not compete against 4G, we did not compete against 3G, we did not compete against 2G. But you decided to compete on 5G. When you decided to compete on 5G, you proved to yourself you could do it,” he said.

India has been maintaining that its ties with China cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border areas.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area.

The ties between the two countries nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in 2021 on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.