China protests against Indian PM Modi’s visit to ‘disputed’ Arunachal Pradesh
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Even as preparations are underway in New Delhi for the forthcoming visit of Indian premier Narendra Modi to Beijing in May, trouble has resumed to in the form of a minor border dispute due to a visit of PM Modi to a disputed region on Indo-China border in North east India. Of late, PM Modi seems to be singing some Chinese “tunes” to the amazement and surprise of some Indian communists.
After months of niceties expressed in words and reception on both sides, China could not digest what India has done on China-India border when on February 20 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited a disputed zone Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern part of China-India borders on Friday to attend activities marking the founding of ‘Arunachal Pradesh’. Chinese government considers Arunachal Pradesh an integral part of China.
China on Friday lodged a strong protest with India to express diametrical opposition to Prime Minister Modi’s visit to “disputed zone” along the China-India borders ,Arunachal Pradesh, and expressed its shock that the visit was not conducive for resolving the border dispute. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said in strongly worded statement: “The act of the Indian side is not conducive to properly resolving and controlling disputes between the two sides, nor in conformity with the general situation of growth of bilateral relations.”
Indian PM Modi visited Arunachal Pradesh, a disputed zone in the eastern part of China-India borders today and said the Centre was planning to make the region an organic hub to boost agriculture production and improve 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity in the northeast region neglected for long.
Guessing that Obama’s China containment policy of pivot to Asia is behind Indian move, Beijing got annoyed by Indian move.
The China state-run Xinhua news agency claimed Hua saying in a report that Indian PM Narendra Modi attended activities marking the founding of the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’, a state that Indian authorities illegally and unilaterally declared in 1987. “The Chinese government has never recognised the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’.” She said China’s stance on the disputed area on the eastern part of the China-India border is consistent and clear.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as a part of Southern Tibet and disputes the McMahon Line. Hua asserted that it is a universally recognised fact that huge disputes exist on the eastern section of China-India borders. “The so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’ was established largely on the three areas of China’s Tibet — Monyul, Loyul and Lower Tsayul currently under Indian illegal occupation. These three areas, located between the illegal ‘ McMahon Line’ and the traditional customary boundary between China and India, have always been Chinese territory,” the Xinhua report claimed. “In 1914, the colonialists secretly contrived the illegal ‘McMahon Line’ in an attempt to incorporate into India the above-mentioned three areas of Chinese territory. None of the successive Chinese governments have ever recognised this line,” it said.
Hua further said, “We demand the Indian side to pay attention to the strong concern of the Chinese side.” She said India should march towards the same goal with China and insist on a fair and reasonable resolution of the border issue through negotiation. “We demand the Indian side not to take any action that may complicate the border issue before its resolution so as to maintain the sound momentum in the growth of bilateral relations,” Hua said.
China routinely objects to visits of Indian dignitaries to Arunachal Pradesh. China had also lodged a strong protest with India when then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited Arunachal Pradesh in October 2009.
Chinese position is that the border dispute is confined to 2000 km mostly in Arunachal Pradesh whereas India asserts that the dispute covered the western side of the border spanning to about 4000 km including Aksai Chin area occupied by China in the 1962 war.
Notwithstanding differences over the border issue, Sino-India ties have made progress in different areas, including trade and military to military relations.
Modi’s remarks during campaigning in Arunachal Pradesh for the general elections last year in which he had asked China to shed its “expansionist mindset” had irked Beijing.
Today’s protest by China comes ahead of the planned 18th round of border talks between Special Representatives of the two countries likely to take place sometime next month and Modi’s visit expected in May. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Beijing early this month to make preparation for Modi’s visit.
Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval who has been designated as the Special Representative will head the Indian side in border talks for the first time. Unlike the previous 17 rounds, the next round of talks were expected to focus on the demarcation of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the backdrop of incursions by the Chinese troops in 2014 and this year.
Tensions are not uncommon on the Indo-China border. The incursion by Chinese troops in the Chumar area in the Ladakh region last year overshadowed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India last September. It was resolved subsequently with both sides withdrawing simultaneously from the area.
Hopefully, the return of border dispute wont disturb the PM Modi’s planned visit to China in May.