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Modi’s visit to Arunachal infuriates China

Updated February 16, 2018

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BEIJING: China on Thursday expressed anger over a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the remote Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China also claims, and said India should stop any action that might complicate the dispute.

China claims the region in the eastern Himalayas as “South Tibet”, and it has denounced Indian leaders’ visits there as attempts to bolster India’s claims.

“China’s position on the China-India boundary question is consistent and clear-cut,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

“The Chinese government has never recognised the so-called Arunachal Pradesh and is firmly opposed to the Indian leader’s visit to the disputed area,” Geng said. “We will lodge stern representations with the Indian side,” he said.

Modi is visiting as part of a tour of India’s northeastern states.

“I am delighted to visit Arunachal Pradesh and be among the wonderful people of this state,” Modi said in a Twitter post.

China and India have improved ties in recent years but there is still deep distrust over their long festering border dispute, which triggered a brief war in 1962.

Chinese and Indian troops faced off on another disputed part of the border last year.

Chinese spokesman Geng said China and India had reached an important consensus on properly managing disputes, and the two sides were working to resolve their contested border through negotiation and consultation.

“The Chinese side urges the Indian side to honour its commitment and abide by the relevant consensus, and refrain from taking any action that may complicate the boundary question,” Geng said.

Modi is expected to visit China in June for a summit of the Chinese and Russian-led Shanghai Coopera­tion Organisation security bloc.

He inaugurated a convention centre in the Arunachal Pradesh state capital of Itanagar and said the state authorities had prepared an excellent roadmap for development until 2027.

Beijing will lodge a “stern” protest with New Delhi over a trip by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a disputed area, the official said.

Last year, hundreds of Chinese and Indian troops faced off on the Doklam plateau, a small strip close to the intersection between China, India and Bhutan.

The border dispute began in mid-June after Chinese troops started building a road on the Himalayan plateau.

India has an army base nearby and moved soldiers into the flashpoint zone to halt the work, prompting Beijing to accuse it of trespassing on Chinese territory.

The two nations finally pulled back their troops in mid-August, averting a full-blown crisis.

Arunachal Pradesh is a strategically important border district and came briefly under Chinese control during the 1962 war between the neighbours.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2018