Is China floating new front with India’s neighbours?

China has done three things in recent days that concern India strategically. China has got Bangladesh and Pakistan to bury their mutual dislike. China has halted or slowed down disengagement at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). And, China has held a foreign minister-level talk with Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan and suggested that they should form a block for greater cooperation.

A sudden jump in Chinese diplomatic activities in India’s neighbourhood has been seen under the shadow of two-month-long Ladakh standoff. China found itself isolated during the standoff particularly after the Galwan incident, in which 20 Indian soldiers died in a fierce clash with Chinese troops. China admitted to casualties on its side but without declaring the number of dead and injured soldiers.

Satellite imageries and intelligence inputs of different countries besides India’s diplomatic outreach across the world made Chinese isolation more visible.

India followed up its diplomacy with measures like stepping up scrutiny of Chinese smartphone applications and showed intent to deepen its engagement with forces having interest and stake in the Pacific Ocean region, particularly the South China Sea.

India’s neighbours except for Nepal, and of course Pakistan, remained officially neutral but their deeper engagement with New Delhi showed that they too understood India’s position. This happened despite China promising huge investments not only in Pakistan but also in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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