China sees red over PM's Arunachal visit

Delhi rejects Beijings concerns, says state integral part of India

China sees red over PM's Arunachal visit

The prime minister had visited Arunachal Pradesh on October 3 to campaign for the state assembly elections. In the past, the Chinese leadership had been routinely issuing protests over visits by top Indian leaders to the northeastern state, which it maintains is a “disputed region.”  

However, in the unusually strong and officially communicated protest on Tuesday Beijing expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” with the visit by the Indian leader, “disregarding China’s serious concerns” and went on to ask India not to “trigger disturbances in the disputed region”.  “We demand the Indian side address China's serious and just concerns and not trigger disturbances in the disputed region so as to facilitate the healthy development of China-India relations,” Beijing said. Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yan officially communicated the stand to the Indian foreign ministry to convey its stand here during the day. Zhang met ministry joint secretary (East Asia)  Vijay Gokhale in this regard.

India, however, rejected the Chinese objections. Within hours of the Chinese protests, the Indian side shot back, asserting that the State of Arunachal Pradesh “is an integral and inalienable part of India” and that China’s statement did not help progress in talks between the neighbours.

In a statement, the foreign office said: “The people of Arunachal Pradesh are citizens of India, and they are proud participants in the mainstream of India’s vibrant democracy. The Chinese side is well aware of this position of the Government of India. It is a well-established practice in our democratic system that our leaders visit states where elections to Parliament and to the State Assemblies are taking place.

The Government of India is deeply committed to ensuring the welfare of its own citizens across the length and breadth of our country.”  New Delhi said India and China have jointly agreed that the outstanding boundary question will be discussed by the special representatives appointed by the two governments.

 “We, therefore, express our disappointment and concern over the statement made by the official spokesman of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs, since this does not help the process of ongoing negotiations between the two governments on the boundary question. India is committed to resolving outstanding differences with China in a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable manner, while ensuring that such differences are not allowed to affect the positive development of bilateral relations. We hope that the Chinese side will similarly abide by this understanding.”

Reacting to China’s statement, foreign minister S M Krishna said: “Well, regardless of what others say it is the Government of India’s stated position that Arunachal is an integral part of India. We rest at that.”

Krishna’s predecessor and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, too, asserted that “Arunachal is an integral part of our country.  Therefore, it is obvious the Prime Minister will visit any part of the country.”

Analysts here said Beijing’s target is Dalai Lama whom it terms as “splittist.” It is seeking to build pressure on India to stop Tibetan Buddhist leader Dalai Lama from visiting Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh next month.

The Dalai Lama, who has visited Tawang four times previously, has proposed to visit Tawang, home to famous Tibetan monastery, in the second week of November. Beijing had also unsuccessfully sought to stall the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit to Taiwan recently.

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