The favourite pastime of Chinese foreign policymakers is playing a game of chicken: Pick an opponent, stare him in the face and see if he blinks.
That’s why it’s important how India responds to the snubs. Reported on Friday, Beijing denied Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal a visa for a regular exchange visit, because he commanded forces in Jammu and Kashmir, a “disputed” area. India, in turn, has put its defence exchanges with China on hold and, some accounts suggest, delayed approvals for two Chinese defence officials to visit India’s National Defence College.
China claims a “peaceful rise”, but there’s a pattern that’s evident. In the last year, Beijing has harassed US warships, declared the South China Sea an area of “core interest” and similarly confronted others in Asia. It’s not looking for an all-out war with anyone, but wants to test their resolve.
India should present a bold and calibrated reaction. When it’s eyeball to eyeball with China, it doesn’t do to blink.