From joint military and naval drills near Chinese border and South China Sea to exposing China’s soft corner for terror outfits, New Delhi is working on various strategies to snub Beijing

NEW DELHI: While China is expecting India to join its neighbouring countries in reiterating commitment to the “One China” principle, New Delhi has started working on various significant plans to give Beijing anxious moments and tough times in the days to come. India is learnt to be finalising a comprehensive plan to carry out joint naval exercises with countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore in the South China Sea, the region that has been witnessing growing Chinese military expansionism. “Talks at the diplomatic levels with these countries for certain formalities are underway, and are likely to conclude soon,” sources told The Sunday Guardian. “India is going to go really hard against the Chinese aggressive agenda, and plans are being prepared for the same,” sources added.

According to officials, India will not miss any chance to give Beijing a firm message that its belligerence will be countered in the language that it understands. “India is also encouraging other countries to conduct drills in the region where China keeps on flexing its muscles,” sources said.

The diplomatic meeting between India and NATO recently is being seen in this context, sources said. Top Indian diplomats and envoys recently held talks with the officials posted at NATO headquarters in Brussels. When asked, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesman Arindam Bagchi pointed out: “India and NATO have kept in touch in Brussels at different levels. This is part of our contacts with various stakeholders on global issues of mutual interest.”

Hinting at India’s preparedness to counter Beijing, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Saturday said on ties with China that “Our relationship is not normal now and without peace at the border it cannot be. China disturbing peace in border areas will impact the relationship with India.” Officials say that Jaishankar’s message is loud and clear that there is no question of India reaffirming the “stand on One-China principle”. On the contrary, China should be ready to face India’s ire if its border misadventure continues, added the officials. While skipping the specific mention of “One China”, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi also said that “India’s relevant policies are well known and consistent. They do not require reiteration.”

As part of India’s plan to snub China, New Delhi made the arrangement to fly the 14th Dalai Lama from Leh to a 15h century monastery near Lingshed, one of the remotest villages of the Union Territory of Ladakh. A military helicopter was pressed into service by India to fly the Dalai Lama to that place. What is more important is that India released pictures of the Dalai Lama with IAF officials and personnel in what was an apparent bid to snub China and give it a firm message. The Chinese government has been expressing displeasure over the Indian government facilitating the visits of the Tibetan Buddhist monk.

Sources told this newspaper that India has several such plans and strategies to snub and counter China. New Delhi has already started a diplomatic campaign to expose on the global forum China’s soft corner for Pakistan-based terror outfits in the light of Beijing blocking UN listing of JeM’s deputy chief Rauf Asghar as a global terrorist. What strengthens India’s claim is the death of three soldiers in a cross-border attack by terrorists of Pakistan-based JeM just after China blocking Asghar’s listing as a global terrorist. “India has raised it with all force at its command at the UN”, sources said.

In what will be another strong message to Beijing, India and the US will be conducting high-altitude combat training in a region bordering China. The joint exercise will be held from 18 to 31 October at the venue which is in close proximity to the Chinese border. According to sources, the joint exercise will take place at a spot which is about 95 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC). “Similarly, India is encouraging countries such as the US, Indonesia and Australia to conduct combat exercises in the Indo-Pacific region as well amid the growing Chinese maritime activity out there,” sources said.