India is carefully evaluating various options in terms of its trade ties with China to protect the Indian economy from any vulnerability, Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla said Wednesday in a commentary amid border standoffs in eastern Ladakh.
In an interactive session at the Chamber of Industry, he said that India needs to assess its ties to China in terms of supply chains, investment ties and technology in line with its larger strategic and security interests.
“The trade continues, there are investment ties that continue, but all of this needs to be scrutinized very carefully, and the government is looking very, very carefully at all of these options to ensure that our integrity and security remain intact,” he said.
Shringla said China maintained an aggressive stance and made repeated attempts to trespass in eastern Ladakh, which did not contribute to peace and security.
“And as a result, we cannot maintain normal relations. Having said that, of course, trade continues, imports and exports continue, China continues to be an economic partner, ”he said.
“But it’s obvious that today we need to assess whether we have gone too far in terms of our supply chains, in terms of our investment ties, in terms of the technologies that we receive,” he said.
The virtual interactive session was hosted by the Indian Chamber of Commerce.
“We need to look very closely at all of this to make sure it is in line with our broader strategic and security interests, and that it is clear that as we move forward, our own economy grows, our own interactions grow,” Shringla said.
He said India needs to ensure that it is by no means vulnerable.
“On the contrary, our growth and development can be faster and more reliable,” he said, adding, “This is a process that I think we will need to see how it continues.”
Shringla noted that India and China have held several rounds of negotiations on border issues and have resolved some of them.
“We have solved some problems, but there are still some unresolved issues, and until we can solve these problems, it is obvious that we will not have a normal regime of relations,” he said.
Referring to the genesis of bilateral ties, the Foreign Minister said that the aim of India’s renewal with China in 1988 was to allow normal business to be conducted without the border issue interfering with relations.
“In other words, we would have trade, commercial, scientific and technological ties, contacts between people, but we would isolate border issues that will be discussed separately through special representatives of both countries,” he said.
“But of course it was based on maintaining peace and tranquility in the border areas,” he added.
Describing China as a rising power, Shringla said that its growth is itself a phenomenon that “we must fight.”
“Since it is growing economically, militarily and showing extremely rapid growth in both of these areas in all its dimensions, I think this is a problem that the world is struggling with in many ways,” he said.
A standoff on the eastern border of Ladakh between Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 last year after a violent clash in the Pangong Lake area, and both sides gradually increased their presence, abandoning tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weapons.
Tensions have escalated since the fatal clash in the Galvan Valley on June 15 last year.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic negotiations, the two sides completed the disengagement process on the northern and southern shores of Lake Pangong in February and in the Gogra area in August.