NEW DELHI: China has now called National Security Advisor Ajit Doval the “main schemer behind the current border standoff” making it clear that the Indian media should not pin any hope on his scheduled visit to Beijing for the BRICS meeting.

In a clear hardening of posture, China seems to have closed the door of opportunity provided by the NSA’s meeting on July 27-28. In an editorial in the official Global Times China has maintained that the BRICS NSA meeting is part of the preparatory “routine” for the BRICS summit and “is not a platform to address Sino-Indian border skirmishes.”

It further states that Doval will be “disappointed if he attempts to bargain with China”. And that there will be no talks, or movement forward until India meets China’s demand for the unconditional withdrawal of its troops from Doklam. “India’s unconditional withdrawal is China’s bottom line,” the editorial in the Global Times states.

In the absence of any response by the Indian Foreign Office, mainstream Indian media has been pinning visible hope on Doval’s visit as a way out of the impasse. Clearly monitoring the media, China has made it clear that there can be no dignified way out---as the Indian media hopes--unless India “complies with international laws” and withdraws its soldiers.

In an interesting aside the editorial states that in doing so India can be sure that “China will neither jeer nor express gratitude for India’s retreat.”

It firmly reiterates that “New Delhi must give up all its illusions.” And states categorically that Peoples Liberation Army forces are being deployed now in the forward area, an indication that was given through the official media a couple of days ago. It is now confirmed with the editorial maintaining that “the PLA is capable enough to take actions that neither Indian troops nor the government can afford.”

China does not believe that India is determined to have an all out military showdown, the editorial states. But points out that if it follows this route “New Delhi will have to pay a heavy price.” And goes on to add that if Beijing takes countermeasures “New Delhi will be mired in a more passive political and military situation, and face its most serious strategic setback since 1962.”

The editorial clearly pins the blame for the current mess on Doval, with China seemingly unwilling to open any doors for a bilateral meeting on the issue. It has made it very clear yet again that it will not move back from its stated position: that India withdraw its troops, and then talk. New Delhi has been very quiet over the past few weeks on this standoff at Doklam and clearly was hopeful that Dovals visit would at least help a thaw. However, China has closed this door rather effectively by pointing at Doval as the person responsible for the current strategy, and making it clear that it is no mood to facilitate a bilateral meeting.

Indian media reports have been suggesting that China is not very serious, and is posturing on this issue. However, diplomats who have had experience in that country are worried about the increasing seriousness with which China has been demanding the unconditional withdrawal of Indian troops, and its unwillingness to entertain any efforts by New Delhi for talks. The words used against NSA Ajit Doval, sources said, is a clear statement that Beijing is not willing to talk to him at this stage, and sees him as the architect of the current strategy.