China’s scuppering of a UN Security Council move to get Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist—the fourth time it has foiled such an attempt—may have ramifications for bilateral ties that were slowly returning to normal.

India on Thursday expressed “disappointment" over China blocking the proposal and said it will continue to pursue all available avenues to bring terror leaders involved in attacks on Indian citizens to justice. Interestingly, none of the Indian government reactions or statements mentioned China by name.

China’s move on Wednesday night came after efforts to thaw ties and rebuild trust between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping in Wuhan last year. After an unprecedented 73-day-long military standoff in Doklam in 2017, India and China seemed to have reached a broad strategic understanding on how to take forward ties, following a rare informal summit between the top leaders of the two countries at Wuhan. Modi and Xi met at least four times last year.

Experts said India’s response to China’s move was been conciliatory in its tone, which, they said, was not enough to handle the situation.

“Our response has to be stronger than expressing disappointment at China blocking the resolution. We need to signal to China that its move can prove to be costly (for it). The first thing that we need to do is to block China’s (market) penetration in areas of technology," said former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal. Sibal referred to the strong action the US has taken against Chinese communication firm Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

The US has banned its state agencies from buying equipment from Huawei which it believes could pose cyber security or espionage threats. The company denies the charges and announced a lawsuit earlier this month against the US move.

Kamal Davar, former chief of India’s Defence Intelligence Agency, said New Delhi must assert its right to combat terrorism as best it can.

“We must protest at China blocking the UN proposal seeking to designate Azhar as a global terrorist. We should tell Beijing that being a regional and global power, China should take steps towards the common goal of combating terrorism," said Davar.

The US on its part was scathing in its comments on China’s human rights practice.

“Then there’s China, which is in a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations. In just 2018, China intensified its campaign of detaining Muslim minority groups at record levels," said US secretary of state Michael R. Pompeo on Wednesday.

China’s move also attracted widespread criticism from Indian political parties including demands for curbing Chinese imports. India will be holding general elections in seven phases, with polling starting on 11 April and ending on 19 May.

“We are ready to engage with Pakistan in an atmosphere free from terror. Some people say (Pakistan prime minister) Imran Khan is a statesman, if he is so generous then he should hand over JeM chief Masood Azhar to India. Let’s see how generous he is," said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. Her remarks came even as India and Pakistan began to discuss and finalize the modalities for the construction of a “corridor" linking India with the historic Kartarpur gurdwara in Pakistan.

utpal.b@livemint.com

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