Sydney: India had "very difficult" two-and-a-half-years in its ties with China which included the first bloodshed on their border after 40 years, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said here on Tuesday, but asserted that he kept communication line open with Beijing as neighbours have to deal with each other. Jaishankar made the remarks while responding to questions after his address at the Lowy Institute on the growing importance of India's relationship with Australia and the interests that both countries share as members of the security-focused Quad.

"We had a two-and-a-half very difficult years in our relationship with China, which has included the first bloodshed we've had on the border after 40 years and where we actually lost 20 soldiers," Jaishankar said while responding to a question.

"But our endeavour, my endeavour has been to keep the communication lines going. In fact, the morning after that, I called up my counterpart Wang Yi and urged him to ensure that there are no escalatory moves or complicated moves on the Chinese side," said the minister, who was the Indian Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2013.

"Diplomacy is about communication. It's not just in relationship with China, even in relationship to (other countries)... If diplomats do not communicate with each other, then what kind of diplomacy will they do?" he said, adding that at the end of the day countries have to deal with each other.

India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are important for the overall development of bilateral ties. The Indian and Chinese militaries have held 16 rounds of Corps Commander-level talks to resolve the standoff.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas.

Both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

Indian and Chinese militaries on September 12 had moved back their frontline troops to the rear locations from the face-off site of Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area in eastern Ladakh and dismantled temporary infrastructure there as part of a five-day disengagement process.

Speaking at a forum in Bangkok in August, Jaishankar had said that the relationship between India and China is going through an "extremely difficult phase" after what Beijing has done at the border and emphasised that the Asian Century will not happen if the two neighbours could not join hands.

Later in the same month, he said in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that China has disregarded the border pacts with India, casting a shadow on the bilateral ties as he asserted that a lasting relationship cannot be a one-way street and there has to be mutual respect.