Incorrigible as ever, China is in no mood to blink first. Instead, it has the temerity to dub India as the aggressor. Just over a month after the foreign ministers of the two countries worked out a five-point agreement to defuse border tensions, raising hopes of a fresh start, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has said that China does not recognise the union territory of Ladakh or the state of Arunachal Pradesh. He has blamed the ongoing standoff on the ramping up of infrastructure and military deployment by India along the border. This is nothing but a diversionary ploy, a blatant attempt by the neighbour to evade responsibility for its provocative actions along the Line of Actual Control.
Ladakh’s UT status, granted last year with the bifurcation of J&K, is India’s internal matter. China is trying to use the festering border dispute as a pretext to meddle in India’s affairs and mislead the international community, but this could prove to be yet another exercise in futility. In August this year, coinciding with the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370, China had repeatedly sought in vain to initiate a discussion on Jammu and Kashmir at the UN Security Council. Interfering in a bilateral matter, China had called India’s decision ‘illegal and invalid’, parroting the line of its all-weather friend Pakistan.
India has been rightly insisting on speedy and complete disengagement of troops from the flash points in eastern Ladakh and the restoration of status quo ante of April. China, however, is reluctant to do a climbdown, cocking a snook at past as well as present pacts. The seventh round of military talks has been euphemistically termed ‘positive and constructive’ as there is no breakthrough in sight. The gains achieved during the ministerial parleys are likely to be short-lived in view of the trust deficit. India has no reason to lower its guard in the diplomatic arena or on the ground. The PLA’s incursions have been effectively repelled by the Indian troops in recent months, but the former can resort to more misadventures during the harsh winter ahead.