India's engagement with China is "complex" and Chinese attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh starting from April-May 2020 seriously disturbed the peace and tranquility in border areas and impacted overall ties, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a report on Monday.
It said the Chinese attempts were invariably met with an "appropriate response" from Indian armed forces.
In its annual report for 2022, the MEA said the External Affairs Minister conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that the restoration of normalcy in ties will require the restoration of peace and tranquility along the frontier.
"India's engagement with China is complex. The two sides have agreed that pending the final settlement of the boundary question, maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas is an essential basis for the overall development of the bilateral relationship," the MEA's annual report for 2022 said.
"However, starting from April-May 2020, the Chinese side undertook several attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo along the LAC in the Western sector, which seriously disturbed the peace and tranquility along the LAC in the Western sector and impacted the development of the relationship," it said.
The government refers to eastern Ladakh as the Western sector.
The MEA said both sides have agreed to resolve the issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh through peaceful dialogue and that discussions have continued with the Chinese side to achieve complete disengagement from all friction points and full restoration of peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas at an early date.
"However, the continued unilateral attempts by China to change the status quo have impacted the bilateral relationship since then," it said.
"The two sides continued to make some progress in the resolution of the issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. Continuing with disengagement in Pangong Tso in February 2021 and in the Gogra area in August 2021, this year, disengagement was achieved in Gogra-Hot Springs (PP-15) in Eastern Ladakh (September 2022)," the MEA said.
It said there are still some outstanding issues that need to be resolved.
"India has maintained its engagement with the Chinese side both through diplomatic and military channels to resolve the remaining issues at the earliest so as to restore peace and tranquility in the border areas," the MEA said.
It said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held a meeting with the then Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi during the latter's visit to India on March 25 last year.
"The two ministers exchanged views on the border situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. EAM conveyed to FM Wang Yi that restoration of normalcy will require a restoration of peace and tranquility," the report said.
Apart from this, Jaishankar discussed key issues including the return of Indian students to continue their education in China.
The majority of Indian students had returned home following the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also mentioned the meeting of the two foreign ministers in Bali on July 7 last on the sidelines of a G-20 meeting.
It said during the meeting, Jaishankar called for an early resolution of all outstanding issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh and reiterated the need to sustain the momentum to complete disengagement from all the remaining areas.
Jaishankar also highlighted that the India-China relationship is best served by observing the three mutuals - mutual respect, mutual sensitivity, and mutual interest, the report said.
The report also cited the diplomatic and military talks between India and China to resolve the border issue.
"During these diplomatic and military level meetings, the two sides have had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on the situation along the LAC in the India-China border areas," the report said.
"There was agreement to continue discussions through diplomatic and military channels to resolve the remaining issues along the LAC at the earliest," it said.
The eastern Ladakh border row 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.
The report noted that India continues to engage with China on multilateral platforms including BRICS, SCO, G-20, UN, etc.
On the Ukraine conflict, the report said India called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and an end to the violence and urged both sides to return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue.
"India also drew attention to the impact of the conflict on issues including food, fertilizer and fuel security, particularly in the developing countries. India also welcomed the signing of the 'Black Sea Grain Initiative' in July 2022 as well as its extension in November 2022," the report said.
It said India-Russia Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership continued to strengthen despite the COVID-19 related challenges and the difficulties arising due to the conflict in Ukraine which began on 24 February 2022.
"This period was particularly significant for bilateral relations, as it marked the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, under which various events were organised," the MEA said.
"Both sides worked towards enhancing cooperation in all areas including high-level political engagements, cooperation in the trade and economic sphere, defence, security, culture, and people-to-people ties," it said.
It said India strengthened its partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.
"The Indo-Pacific is central to India's ties with its closest partners, including its Quad partners: Australia, Japan and the United States," it said.
The report said the scope of the Quad continues to expand.
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