File photo of Pangong lake

Srinagar: Sino-India border tensions are witnessing a new twist as a Chinese diplomat has suggested that the ongoing standoff in Ladakh is linked to New Delhi abrogating Article 370 last year.

Wang Xianfeng, whose Twitter bio describes him as press officer at the Chinese mission in Islamabad, recently shared a link to an article by a scholar from an influential think tank affiliated with China’s ministry of state security, which also suggested a connection between the Ladakh border tensions and the change in J&K’s status including creation of Ladakh as a separate Union Territory.

“India’s actions of unilaterally changing the status quo of Kashmir and continuing to exacerbate regional tensions have posed a challenge to the sovereignty of China and Pakistan and made the India-Pakistan relations and China-India relations more complex,” Wang tweeted.

https://twitter.com/WangXianfeng8/status/1271060666405851136

While the tweet may only represent his personal opinion, it is the first time a Chinese official has sought to link the border standoff with the change in Kashmir’s status, including the creation of the union territory of Ladakh, which particularly angered China.

Last year when Article 370 was abrogated and J&K divided in to two union territories, the Chinese foreign ministry had issued two statements criticising the development, including one that focused on the splitting of the state into union territories.

This statement, while urging India to be “cautious” on the border issue and to avoid “actions that further complicate the border issue”, said: “China has always opposed India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in India’s administrative jurisdiction in the western part of the Sino-Indian border.”

The article that Wang tweeted too suggested that “India’s unilateral move to change the status quo of Kashmir constitutes a serious threat to regional peace and stability.”

“This has posed a challenge to the sovereignty of Pakistan and China and made the India-Pakistan relations and China-India relations more complex,” reads the article titled ‘India blinded by “double confidence”’ and authored by Wang Shida.

Shida is Deputy Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).

Meanwhile, media reports Saturday said there was no indication of Chinese troops withdrawing from Indian Territory they occupied last month in Ladakh.

Business Standard reported that China had deployed artillery and tanks on Line of Actual control and the “new LAC was solidifying.”

Questioning the timing of the Chinese official’s tweet, Amitabh Mathur, a former special secretary in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), told The Hindustan Times that it underscored the complex issues involved in the ongoing standoff.

“It seems as if the Chinese are leaning on us and the situation isn’t as simple as some are making it out to be. It’s also strange that such a tweet emanated from a Chinese official in Islamabad. There is a Pakistani connection to it and it’s almost as if the Chinese are trying to reassure the Pakistanis,” he said.

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