At a time when Vice-President Hamid Ansari is on a tour of Beijing, China has once again subtly asserted its claim on Arunachal Pradesh and published a map depicting the north-eastern state as a part of its own territory.
New Delhi reacted strongly, reaffirming that Arunachal Pradesh was an integral and inalienable part of India.
“Cartographic depiction does not change reality on the ground,” the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Syed Akbaruddin, told journalists in New Delhi. Ansari is understood to have lodged protests over the map with his Chinese counterpart Li Yuanchao during a meeting in Beijing.
Though Beijing used such means to assert its claim on Arunachal Pradesh in the past too, this is the first time it did so after the new government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over in New Delhi.
It also came on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the historic joint statement by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai issued in New Delhi on June 28, 1954. The statement reaffirmed the two nations’ commitment to “Panchsheel” – the five principles of peaceful coexistence.
The “vertical atlas”, which was brought out by Hunan Map Publishing House of China, not only showed Arunachal Pradesh as a part of the communist country, but also asserted its claim over all the disputed islands in the South China Sea and waters around them.
China has disputes with the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia over conflicting territorial claims over a number of islands in South China Sea.
Vietnam and the Philippines have already voiced strong protest against the map published by China. India too joined them on Saturday.
“The fact that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India has been conveyed to Chinese authorities on several occasions, including at the very highest level,” the MEA spokesperson added.
“It is normal practice to raise all issues of bilateral concerns,” he said, when asked if the vice president will raise it during his meetings with the leaders of China.
Beijing’s move to come out with such a map just ahead of Indian vice president’s visit to China came as a rude shock for New Delhi.
Ansari, in fact, on Saturday joined Chinese and Myanmarese Presidents, Xi Jinping and U Thein Sein, in an event held in Beijing to mark the 60th anniversary of the ‘Panchsheel’.The “Panchsheel” were also referred to by China and Myanmar in a joint statement issued in Yangon on June 29, 1954.