The Indian establishment seems to have finally come to terms with the Chinese designs. The Ministry of Defence document on the Chinese incursion in Ladakh uploaded on the MoD website on Tuesday (subsequently removed), terming it ‘transgression’, is a big step forward in accepting, analysing and responding to the imminent threat on the eastern front. Though China all along posed the biggest foreign policy challenge, Indian politicians continued to delude themselves into believing that the two countries could flourish together even in an unequal economic partnership. PM Narendra Modi’s 18 meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the primacy of this relationship, which was structured in order to separate border disputes and economic cooperation into neat, watertight compartments.
The refusal to pull back from Pangong Tso and all other positions now held by the Indian Army is another strong indicator of a new direction in India’s China policy. At the meeting of the army commanders on Sunday, the Chinese had asked the Indian side to vacate their positions to reciprocate the Chinese pullback. The old salami slicing trick was being played out once again and India was being asked to retreat from its own territory after China having shifted the Line of Actual Control further westwards. But India has decided to dig in for the long and cruel winter preparing for a Siachen redux.
Meanwhile, the Chinese again got rebuffed at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday trying to raise the issue of J&K. After its failed attempt in January, China sought a discussion on J&K ‘under other business’. But most members of the Security Council rejected the move by terming J&K a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. China is opening all fronts against India. Military and diplomatic attacks have been launched; trade and cyber ones ought to be on the anvil. This is no time for the nation to get distracted by politico-religious symbolism. Instead, this is the moment of truth about the eastern neighbour, and the Indian response on the LAC or at the UN has to be considered and holistic.