India will not lower its guard along the Line of Actual Control with China, while maintaining border peace in sync with the “Wuhan” spirit, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said.
Nearly a month after talks with her Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe, Ms. Sitharaman said both sides recognised that the broad decisions arrived at the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan should govern management of the border.
“Absolutely,” she told PTI when asked if India was still on guard and not lowering it despite the Wuhan spirit.
Doklam and after
At the Wuhan summit in April, Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi resolved to open a new chapter in ties, and directed their militaries to boost coordination along the nearly 3,500-km Sino-Indian border, months after the most serious military faceoff in decades between the two nuclear-armed neighbours in Doklam triggered fears of a war.
Asked whether the decision of Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi at the summit to issue strategic guidelines to their militaries to maintain peace along the border is working, she said, “I want to believe it is working.”
At the same time, she added that as Defence Minister of the country she was conscious of the fact that she would have to keep the border guards on alert. “Then I would also be, as Raksha Mantri, I would also be conscious that I have to keep [them] alert...Wuhan spirit, yes,” she said.
Asked if Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat’s comments earlier in the year that the time had come for India to shift focus to its northern border from the western frontier, she said, “I cannot afford to say, at the cost of one border, I will be more alert in another. A border is a border. I have to be conscious of both my borders.”
“I will also have be conscious of my sea. It is less talked about,” she said.