China Itch

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NATIONAL Conference leader Dr Farooq Abdullah’s statement to a national television channel that Article 370 will be restored with China’s help has expectedly run into controversy. The BJP has termed the statement as “anti-national”. Its spokesperson Sambit Patra accused Abdullah of questioning the sovereignty of the country. However, this is not the first time that Abdullah has brought up China since his release from detention in March. Earlier, in an interview to Karan Thapar, Abdullah had said that Kashmiris would rather want China to come in than be ruled by India. In saying so, while Abdullah has struck a chord in Kashmir, he has invited criticism from the BJP.

In recent months, China has loomed large over Kashmir. The incursions at several points along Line of Actual Control by the People’s Liberation Army have made China an inseparable part of the discourse about J&K. There has been a huge debate about whether Chinese incursions in Ladakh had stemmed from New Delhi’s erasure of autonomous status of J&K and its bifurcation into two union territories, J&K and Ladakh. There is a reason to take this observation seriously considering that China had vehemently objected to India’s move.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, in a written statement, called J&K an issue with the “legacy of history between India and Pakistan”. He added that “the parties concerned should exercise restraint and act with caution, especially to avoid actions that unilaterally change the status quo and exacerbate the tension… We call on the two sides to peacefully resolve relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard regional peace and stability”.

China was also upset about the conversion of Ladakh into a union territory. China has since given enough signals of its unhappiness with the altered status of J&K. In the latest statement on Tuesday, China has said it doesn’t recognize “the illegally established union territory in Ladakh”.

In June, deputy director of a Chinese ministry of state security-affiliated think tank, Institute of South Asian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), Wang Shida too made it clear that the repeal of J&K’s status had “posed a challenge to the sovereignty of Pakistan and China” and “stimulated China and Pakistan to take counter-actions on the Kashmir issue”.

However, China hasn’t officially or publicly raised the issue of the withdrawal of J&K autonomy in the course of the ongoing stand-off with India. Be that as it may, China’s incursions in Ladakh seems to have given it a more prominent role in J&K. Also, on its urging the United Nations Security Council has thrice discussed Kashmir over the last year, albeit in a closed door informal session. So, it is not just Abdullah who is raking up China. China has become a reality in J&K in its own right and New Delhi has to deal with it.

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