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CHINA UPS ANTE ON ARUNACHAL PRADESH, ASSERTS ITS CLAIM YET AGAIN IN A MONTH

TIN NETWORK
TIN NETWORK

CHINA UPS ANTE ON ARUNACHAL PRADESH, ASSERTS ITS CLAIM YET AGAIN IN A MONTH

The claim and counterclaim by Beijing and New Delhi on Arunachal Pradesh escalated this month even as the stand-off between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh could not be resolved completely although four years passed since it had started in April-May 2020

New Delhi: Beijing on Monday for the fourth time this month asserted its claim on Arunachal Pradesh and accused India of illegally occupying what was a part of China. Two days after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar dismissed Beijing’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh as ‘ludicrous’, a spokesperson of President Xi Jinping’s government reiterated that the area had been under the “effective administrative control” of China before being illegally occupied by India.

Beijing alleged that India had established the “so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’” on China’s territory in 1987 after illegally occupying it. China had issued a statement at that time firmly opposing it, emphasizing that India’s move had been “illegal and invalid”, Lin Jian, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the communist country’s government told journalists in Beijing. “China’s position has not changed”, he added, rejecting New Delhi’s claim that the state was always a part of India.

Lin was replying to a question from a journalist on Jaishankar’s recent comment rejecting China’s claim on the north-eastern state of India.

“This is not a new issue. I mean China has laid claim, it has expanded its claim. The claims are ludicrous to begin with and remain ludicrous today,” Jaishankar said after delivering a lecture at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) in Singapore on Saturday. He was replying to a question on the latest round of war of words between India and China on Arunachal Pradesh.

This was the fourth time this month that Beijing asserted its claim on Arunachal Pradesh, beginning with the comments made by Wang Wenbin, another spokesperson of the MoFA of the government of China, on March 11 to protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the north-eastern state of India.

The claim and counterclaim by Beijing and New Delhi on Arunachal Pradesh escalated this month even as the stand-off between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh could not be resolved completely although four years passed since it had started in April-May 2020.

Modi visited Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh on March 9. He remotely dedicated to the nation the Sela Tunnel built at an altitude of 13,000 feet in Arunachal Pradesh. The Rs 825 crore tunnel constructed on the road connecting Tezpur in Assam with the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang, which is at the core of the India-China boundary dispute in the eastern sector.

The tunnel will make it easier for the Indian Army to mobilize troops and military hardware to the McMahon Line – the de facto boundary between India and China in Arunachal Pradesh – to resist any aggressive move by the communist country’s PLA in the region, like the one it had made in 1962.

Beijing reacted to the inauguration of the Sela Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh, stressing that India had no right to arbitrarily develop the Zangnan area in China. The Ministry of Defence of the government of China also on March 15 reiterated Beijing’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh and stated that India should “stop taking any moves that complicate the border issue and earnestly maintain peace and stability in the border areas”. He added that the inauguration of the Sela Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh ran “counter to the efforts made by both sides to ease the border situation”.

The United States last week stated that it recognized Arunachal Pradesh as the territory of India. Vedant Patel, a spokesperson of the US State Department, also tacitly hit out at China, stating that Washington DC would oppose any unilateral move to expand territorial claims.

The statement from Washington DC drew protests from Beijing, with Wang, Chinese MoFA spokesperson, stating on March 21 that the dispute over Arunachal Pradesh was a bilateral one between India and China and the US had nothing to do with it. He also accused the US of taking advantage of disputes between other countries for selfish geopolitical interests.

Beijing claims almost the entire state of – over 80000 sq. km. of area – Arunachal Pradesh of India as a part of the territory of China and calls it Zangnan or south Tibet. India claims that China is illegally occupying about 38,000 sq km of its territory in Aksai Chin, which borders eastern Ladakh. China claims nearly 2000 sq. km. of land in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand of India.

Apart from showing the territories of India as China’s own or disputed in the official maps, Beijing has been resorting to several other ways to assert its claims on territories of India – be it by assigning Chinese and Tibetan names to areas – particularly in Arunachal Pradesh – it has been eyeing, or by issuing stapled visas to people from Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir and thus avoiding recognizing them as citizens of India.

The soldiers of the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA have been engaged in a military stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since April-May 2020. The stand-off reached a flashpoint when the soldiers of the two sides had a violent face-off on June 15, 2020, leading to casualties on both sides.

Though protracted negotiations led to the mutual withdrawal of troops by both the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA from some of the face-off points along the LAC, like Galwan Valley, the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso, Gogra Post, and Hot Springs, the stand-off could not be resolved completely so far. The PLA troops deployed in Depsang, well inside the territory of India along the LAC with China, are still continuing to block the Indian Army’s access to Patrolling Points 10, 11, 12, 12A, and 13. A face-off is also continuing in Demchok.

There have been occasional escalations of tension in the eastern and middle sectors of the disputed boundary between the two nations, due to the Chinese PLA’s aggressive moves and quick resistance by the Indian Army. The soldiers of the two nations had clashed at Yangtse in Arunachal Pradesh on December 9, 2022.

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