By The New Indian Express
25th May 2013 07:50 AM
The skill and speed with which Chinese opera artists change their masks has mystified audiences’ imagination for centuries. During his recent visit to India and Pakistan, Chinese premier Li Leqiang has shown that its new leaders can use it to advantage in the amphitheatre of international politics also. After signing a series of goodwill pacts with India to create the mirage of a newfound bonhomie, he has inked a deal with Pakistan to build infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). China will build a transport and economic corridor to link its far-western Xinjiang region to the port of Gwadar in Pakistan, passing through territory that is the bane of a bitter dispute between India and Pakistan. China and Pakistan have already conducted a pre-feasibility study for a railway line passing through the same region.
The fact that China is pushing ahead with the projects in PoK in disdainful disregard of India’s objections puts a question mark over the sincerity of the Chinese leadership in mending fences with India. China’s argument that its agreements with Pakistan were being carried out “without prejudice” to disputes between India and Pakistan is totally untenable and must be rejected outright. China had itself expressed strong opposition to Indian co-operation with Vietnam on exploration projects in the waters of the South China Sea that are contested by it.
New Delhi must take cognisance of the ominous portents of the emerging China-Pakistan nexus. Unfortunately, the dispensation in New Delhi has gone overboard playing down threats to India’s territorial integrity from its hostile neighbours despite clear evidence to the contrary. In the face of China’s blatant incursion in Ladakh last month, it conceded ground by entering into a troop withdrawal deal with China and threw a red carpet for Li. Even during negotiations, it indulged in rhetorical flourishes about solidarity. Li has unmasked China’s real intentions towards India. Instead of letting its guard down, India must prepare to take on the China-Pakistan combine as and when such a situation is forced on it.