The naming of Vijay Gokhale as foreign secretary is being viewed as a sign that the government is focusing intensely on its approach to China, following the Doklam episode, which raised tensions between the two nations. A 1981-batch IFS officer and secretary (economic relations in the ministry of external affairs, Mr Gokhale succeeds Dr S. Jaishankar, who is completing his tenure this month-end. Whispers in Delhi suggest that Mr Jaishankar himself may well segue into some useful but new role, pretty soon.

Significantly, Mr Gokhale was Indian ambassador to Beijing during the border crisis and played a major role in intensive talks with Chinese diplomats. Apparently, his views on China are in convergence with Jaishankar’s, who too had an earlier stint as enjoy to China. Sources say that Mr Gokhale is representative of a new generation of China experts trying to make the point that old-style methods of dealing with Beijing need a relook.

Sources say that Mr Gokhale’s appointment firmly ensconces a new outlook on China within the ministry of external affairs, one which marks a breakaway from the old thinking. How effective the new thinking will be, will be known in the months ahead as India negotiates with its aggressive neighbour.

Our Bureau