In recent years, Beijing has frequently upped its expansionist rhetoric over Arunachal Pradesh and sought to needle India over the issue
China on Tuesday asserted that it never recognised the “so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’”, and reiterated its claim that the state is actually ‘south Tibet’ and part of its territory.
The statement came in response to the Indian Army’s question asking if five civilians who went missing from Arunachal Pradesh days ago were in the custody of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian stonewalled a query on the civilians from Arunachal Pradesh, and was quoted by News18 as saying, “We have no details to release yet about question on Indian Army sending a message to PLA about the five missing Indians in the region.”
Arunachal Pradesh shares its entire north and eastern boundary with China, which claims the state in its territory as the part of Tibet it occupied in 1951. However, the northeastern state is within India according to the Mcmohan Line drawn in 1938.
China routinely objects to Indian leaders, and Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, visiting Arunachal Pradesh to highlight its stand.
India says the state of Arunachal Pradesh is its integral and inalienable part and Indian leaders visit Arunachal Pradesh from time to time, as they visit other parts of the country.
In recent years, Beijing has frequently upped its expansionist rhetoric over Arunachal Pradesh and sought to needle India over the issue. Following are some such instances:
The issue of stapled visas first cropped up in 2009, when China began to issue such visas on a separate page to the people from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, implying that they do not belong to India. This was after a visit of the Dalai Lama to Tawang.
In January 2011, Beijing issued stapled visas to two Indian sportsmen from Arunachal Pradesh. One of them was Indian Weightlifting Federation Joint Secretary Abraham K Techi while the other was a weightlifter from the state.
The two were turned away by the Indian immigration officials as India does not recognise the stapled visas, while the External Affairs Ministry stated India will not honour such visas.
On this issue, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman’s office was quoted by PTI as saying, “China’s position is consistent and clear about the China-India border issue, including the disputed area of Eastern section and the Indian side is aware of it. The position has remained unchanged.”
The Eastern section of the India-China border covers the Arunachal Pradesh sector.
Tapir Gao, the BJP MP who represents the Arunachal East parliamentary constituency, had alleged in August 2019 that Chinese troops had made an incursion into Indian territory in July 2019. He also claimed that Chinese troops had constructed a temporary wooden bridge over a stream in Anjaw district.
Gao also said that in October 2018, an Indian Army patrol had come across Chinese troops in the area.
The Army had then denied any Chinese incursion into Arunachal Pradesh. It had said in an official statement, “The area being referred to in the media report on ‘some electronic channels’, is the area of Fish Tail. There is a differing perception of the alignment of the Line of Control, as in many other areas.”
In June 2020, Gao also shared a video of a wooden footbridge built over a stream as proof of his claims. The army, however, insisted that “there is no permanent presence of either Chinese soldiers or civilians in the area”, as quoted by Hindustan Times.
Nevertheless, the Congress cited the allegations of incursions to step up pressure on the Centre and sought the convening of a special session of Parliament to discuss issues such as national security.
In March 2019, China destroyed 30,000 world maps printed in the country for export for not mentioning Arunachal Pradesh and Taiwan as part of Chinese territory.
The world maps were meant for export to an “unspecified country”, state-run Global Times reported at the time.
In April 2020, Beijing’s Sky Map or digital maps showed parts of Arunachal Pradesh within its international borders. Sky Map is operated by the country’s National Surveying and Mapping Geographic Information Bureau, as reported by Outlook.
With inputs from PTI
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