BENGALURU: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said India has consistently maintained its position that if China disturbed peace in the border areas, it will have an impact on the bilateral relationship.
"We have had 15 rounds of talks at the commanders' level but there are experts also attending along with the commanders. We have made some progress, some substantial progress in terms of the sides pulling back from places where they are very close," Jaishankar told reporters during an interaction here.
"There are still some places where they have not, but we have consistently maintained the position that if China disturbs the peace and tranquility in the border areas, it will have an impact on the relationship," he added.
Jaishankar was replying to a query on the troubled relationship with China after the clash in Ladakh two years ago.
"I have said in 2020 and 2021 and I continue to say in 2022 -- our relationship is not normal. It cannot be normal if the border situation is not normal and the border situation right now is not normal," Jaishankar explained.
He said the border situation remained a big problem as the military has been holding its ground for two winters.
"It's something which has been a very resolute and strong position by the government which has been implemented on the ground by the armed forces. Obviously, because our positioning is very close, it's a very tense situation, it also could be a dangerous situation, so we are having talks," the minister said.
Jaishankar said the Russia-Ukraine war has led to a sharp rise in fuel prices.
Trade and imports were hit, especially the import of sunflower oil.
He said India has always taken the view that the conflict is not in anybody's interest.
Dialogue and diplomacy are the best answers and India kept reiterating the same message.
He also said there could be "very unsettling changes" and India will have to prepare for it, when a regional power like China is on its way to become a superpower.
The Minister was interacting with students at PES University here.
Responding to a question on the repercussions of the current situation with respect to China and Taiwan, he said, "if you are talking about a larger Chinese presence offshore including in the Indian Ocean, I think it is something that India has to evaluate and assess including the implications that it has for our own security, because historically we have always thought of China as a country to the north of us. It is the situation we keep evaluating and monitoring."
"When you have a power which is beyond a regional power and on its way to become a superpower, then there could be very unsettling changes and these are changes which our country will have to prepare for. Wherever our interests are involved, I think it is very important that we are very clear and firm on defending our interests," he said.
Responding to a question, he said becoming permanent member of the UN Security Council is a "very big deal".
Jaishankar said it is not going to happen easily because the world is not a generous place, and countries have to struggle for what they get.
"The current structure was formed in 1945, it kind of reflected the outcome of the second world war. In 77 years that have passed the world has changed dramatically. Very soon you will have a situation where the most populous country and third-largest economy of the world is not in the security council, I then ask you how credible does it make the security council," he asked.
Noting that India's case for UNSC is widely acceptable, he said if there is a free and fair vote for membership it is assured that we will get a very high degree of support, but there are very deep vested interests.
"But because it is hard is no reason to give up."
The foreign policy today is very focused on "how do I use the world to drive my national development faster", Jaishankar said.
It is about knowing the world and in a sense doing a risk assessment.
He said one of the areas where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pushing very hard is to make sure the world opens up for India as a work place, so that Indian talent, skills and corporates are able to go out and work on equal terms with citizens of those countries, the minister said.
"One of our big focuses today is on mobility agreements and work opportunities for our students and interns abroad," he said.
Stating that the vision, leadership and ambitions that India has today are very different, Jaishankar said, "I'm not suggesting that the world is without challenges, it is a tough place, but it is a tough place that we in India face with confidence because we have that leadership and experience today."
The decisions that this country is making are the right ones and that of experience, he said.
They are decisions of prudence, but still decisions of ambitions, Jaishankar added.