Source: Economic Times
Less than a week after the last round of talks to resolve the Ladakh impasse failed, the India-China boundary dispute touched yet another low with New Delhi on Wednesday hitting out at Beijing for questioning the recent visit of Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu
to Arunachal Pradesh, asserting that the state is an integral and inalienable part of India.
Naidu visited Arunachal Pradesh on October 9 and addressed a special session of the state assembly.
In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China has never recognised the state. “China’s position on the boundary issue is consistent and clear. The Chinese government has never recognised the so-called Arunachal Pradesh established unilaterally and illegally by the Indian side and is firmly opposed to the Indian leader’s visit to the area concerned,” Zhao said.
The comments by the Chinese side on Arunachal Pradesh at this stage are particularly significant as the Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a brief face-off near Yangtse in Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh in the first week of October but it was resolved within a few hours, following talks. Nearly 100 Chinese army personnel tried to enter the Indian territory, but were forced back.
The face-off came weeks after around 100 Chinese troops transgressed the LAC in Uttarakhand in the Barahoti sector in Uttarakhand. ET was the first to report this incident.
The transgression took place on August 30, and the Chinese troops returned after a few hours from the area guarded by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Indian troops responded with a “tit-for-tat strategy” and “carried out patrolling”. The Chinese side has also significantly ramped up infrastructure development along the LAC in this sector.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “We have noted the comments made today (Wednesday) by the Chinese official spokesperson. We reject such comments. Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India.”
He said Indian leaders routinely travel to Arunachal Pradesh as they do to any other state of India. “Objecting to the visit of Indian leaders to a state of India does not stand to reason and understanding of Indian people,” he said.
China has been objecting to visits to Arunachal Pradesh by leaders (particularly constitutional authorities) from New Delhi. Beijing has been claiming Tawang and entire state of Arunachal Pradesh. China has been sensitive about Tawang as the sixth Dalai Lamas was born there and the current Dalai Lama fled to India via Tawang.
Bagchi stated that the current situation along the LAC in the Western Sector of the India-China border areas has been caused by unilateral attempts of the Chinese side to alter the status quo in violation of the bilateral agreements.
“Therefore, we expect the Chinese side to work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols rather than trying to link unrelated issues,” he said.
India and China have been engaged in the border dispute for the last 17 months.
Last Sunday, India and China military talks to end the dispute along LAC in Ladakh did not result in a resolution with the Chinese not agreeable to the “constructive suggestions” provided by the Indian delegation. The Chinese also could not provide any forward-looking proposals.
“The meeting thus did not result in the resolution of the remaining areas,” the Indian Army had said in a statement. So far, 13 rounds of India-China Corps Commander Level meetings have taken place since the dispute in May 2020.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in the Gogra area in August. In February, the two sides completed the withdrawal of troops and weapons from the north and south banks of the Pangong Lake in line with an agreement on disengagement.
India has significantly bolstered its military deployment in all sensitive areas along the nearly 3,500-km LAC, including in the Tawang sector, following the Ladakh standoff.