India Sets aside China’s objections to leader’s visit to disputed state

Days after talks stalled to resolve the 17-month military stalemate between India and China, the rival countries are embroiled in a new war of words over India’s vice president’s recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, India’s eastern state where claimed by China.

The row indicates deepening tensions between the two countries, which have each deployed massive troops along their disputed border in the Himalayan region, security experts say.

After Beijing raised objections to Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu’s visit last weekend to the remote Himalayan state, India reacted sharply. India calls Arunachal Pradesh an “integral and inseparable part of India.”

“Indian leaders regularly visit the state of Arunachal Pradesh as they do other Indian states. The objection to a visit by Indian leaders to an Indian state is absurd and understands the Indian people,” said Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Zhao Lijian in Beijing, China, September 10, 2020.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian in Beijing, China, September 10, 2020.

Earlier on Wednesday (13/10), Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a press statement that China “strongly opposes” the Indian leader’s visit and called on New Delhi “to stop taking actions that would complicate and expand the border issue.”

He urged India to respect China’s concerns and take “real action” to maintain peace and stability in border areas.

Arunachal Pradesh is located in the eastern part of India, away from Ladakh in the western Himalayan region where troops from both sides have engaged in confrontations. But security analysts have warned that the state could become the epicenter of the conflict again. Its status has long been disputed, with Beijing claiming it as part of Southern Tibet.

This is not the first time China has raised objections to a visit by an Indian leader to Arunachal Pradesh. In 2017, China also condemned the visit of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to the region. [uh/ab]

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