External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar asserted on Friday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been very firm on China, which can be judged by the strong force deployment on the borders with China.
Reacting to opposition’s criticism of Modi’s handshake with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the recent G20 summit in Indonesia, Jaishankar said while addressing a summit organised by Times Now, “I don’t think the Prime Minister has postured publicly on China. I think the Prime Minister has been very firm on China. The Prime Minister has been very clear, not just in his words, but in his actions as well. Please understand the efforts that were made from 2020 onwards in maintaining such a large force on our borders. It is an enormous enterprise.”
The minister said that the right way of dealing with China is “to be firm when one has to be firm”.
“If we have to move troops up to the borders to deal with what they are trying to do, we should do that. On issues where they do not support or undermine our interests, to be frank about it, to be public about it where required. I don’t say public about it all the time but where diplomacy requires it is often useful to be public,” he said.
Jaishankar added, “I would rather have a Prime Minister who does things than to have a Prime Minister who pontificates but does not actually do it out there. In the case of Prime Minister Modi, I think he should be judged by the fact that the Indian military today is deployed in strength on the borders with China to respond to the challenges of 2020.”
On relations with China, the minister said that he does not think the ties should be approached as a behavioural or a term-driven policy.
“I think we have structural long-term challenges. My regret is that we have not taken that seriously. Today I am speaking about sending troops up there, but remember, 10 years ago, you had people saying that our best defence is not to develop the borders and that is the way of dealing with the border problem,” Jaishankar said.