Hours after China raised objections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, the Ministry of External Affairs on Saturday reacted sharply to Beijing’s remarks, asserting that the northeastern state is an “integral and inalienable part” of India.
“The State of Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India. Indian leaders visit Arunachal Pradesh from time to time, as they visit other parts of India,” the MEA said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, while responding to a question on Modi’s visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China is “firmly opposed to the Indian leader’s visit to the East Section of the China-India boundary.”
“China’s position on the China-India boundary question is consistent and clear-cut. The Chinese government has never recognised the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’,” Chunying said in her reaction posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website.
“China urges the Indian side to bear in mind the common interests of the two countries, respect the interests and concerns of the Chinese side, cherish the momentum of improvement in bilateral relations, and refrain from any action that may lead to the escalation of disputes or complicate the boundary question,” she added.
PM Modi, who is on a two-day tour of the Northeast, is holding public meetings in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He inaugurated development projects worth Rs 4000 crore and laid the foundation stone for construction of Greenfield Airport at Hollongi in Arunachal Pradesh.
China routinely protests visits by Indian leaders to Arunachal Pradesh and reiterates its claims over the state. The India-China border dispute stretches across 3,488 kms. Both sides have held 21 rounds of talks so far through their Special Representatives to resolve the issue.
Beijing said that such actions would affect the progress made by both sides, after the meet between PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was seen as an icebreaker in Wuhan last year. Both India and China have sought to rebuild trust after the Doklam standoff in 2017.