NEW DELHI: Indian Army will not let China change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) “unilaterally” and its current deployment along the frontier was not seen before, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday, rejecting Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the government’s handling of the border row.
Jaishankar said the deployment of the Army was made on the orders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Army did not go to the frontier region because Gandhi asked them for it.
“Today we have a deployment of the Indian Army on the China border that we have never had. It is done in order to counter Chinese deployment which was scaled up massively since 2020,” Jaishankar said.
He was replying to a question during India Today’s India-Japan conclave.
“If we were in denial then how is the Army out there? The Army did not go there because Rahul Gandhi asked them to go. Army went there because the prime minister of India ordered them to go,” Jaishankar said, replying to Gandhi’s allegations that the government was hiding the fact that China took Indian territory along the LAC.
The Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a fresh clash in Yangtse area of Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang sector on December 9.
The incident came amid the over 30-month border standoff in eastern Ladakh.
“People will say things; they may not be credible, they may sometimes contradict their own positions, their own behaviour. All that could happen. But the fact is what is finally the proof of the pudding. The proof of the pudding is that the Indian Army is deployed today to counter any attempt to unilaterally change the LAC,” Jaishankar said.
The external affairs minister said it is the commitment of the Indian Army to not let China change the LAC unilaterally.
“I am saying that it is the obligation of the Indian state and that is the duty and commitment of the Indian military that we will not let any country, and in this case China, change the LAC unilaterally,” Jaishankar said.
“I think it is fairly obvious and most people in the country see that. You can make your polemical points. I think people will treat it as politics,” he added.
Asked about Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s criticism of the government for increasing trade volume with China notwithstanding the border row, he said that India continues to import from that country because there was no adequate focus on the manufacturing sector.
Jaishankar said not much attention was given to the MSME sector and building supply chains as well after India opened up its economy in 1991.
“When somebody says why imports are coming out of China, there are imports coming out of China because for 30 years, you did not give your industry the kind of support and protection you should have,” Jaishankar said.
“It is only now in recent years that you have started to do it. Now you cannot reverse in five or 10 years what you have done in 30 years,” he said.
Speaking at the conclave, Jaishankar made 12 points about India-Japan ties and said the two countries have a “positive history” that will be an asset in the coming times.
He said Japan is perceived in India as a model of harmonising modernity and tradition, adding there is a strong national consensus in India on developing ties with that country.
“Traditionally, this was an economic relationship. In the past, global strategy had little impact on India-Japan ties,” he said.
“Businesses have long had a footprint in each other’s economy. But, this did not become a deep one. Japan started approaching India with a strategic outlook under former PM Shinzo Abe,” he said.
Jaishankar said Japan has been a catalyst of “change” and referred to Maruti bringing a lifestyle shift and Metro networks, an urbanization experience. “Bullet Train will have major consequences,” he said.
Japan has been significantly supporting the Delhi Metro network.
“Our strategic compulsions are much stronger today as we are united to secure a multipolar Asia. And to ensure that Asian diversity is reflected in its power structure,” the minister said.
He noted that the maritime convergence between India and Japan is particularly strong and will grow in the years ahead.
“The energy of the Quad will charge up our bilateral ties and reinforce them for mutual benefit,” he said, adding the big question is whether Japan will see India’s growth as a strategic goal.