China on Tuesday upped the ante by expressing "strong" dissatisfaction over prime minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh on October 3 to address an election rally. Of interest is that although the visit took place 10 days ago, Beijing decided to comment on it the day the state went to the polls.
India expressed its disappointment at the comments to ambassador Zhang Yan when he met the joint secretary at the ministry of external affairs (MEA), but government sources clarified that the Chinese envoy was not summoned but had come to South Block for a scheduled meeting. The 1962 war between India and China was partly over Arunachal Pradesh and the countries have been shadowboxing with regard to the state ever since.
In its refutation, India emphasised that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India, where democratic elections are held regularly to elect representatives to the state assembly and to Parliament.
China made the comments through its foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu, whose statement was particularly harsh and came at a time when relations between the countries are strained owing to cross-border incursions and a recent attempt by Beijing to block an international loan for a project in the state.
Without naming the prime minister, Ma advised "the Indian leader" to not "stir up trouble at the disputed area with a view to ensuring the sound development of China-India relations". He urged "the Indian side to take China's solemn concerns seriously", and emphasised that "China expresses its strong dissatisfaction on the visit to the disputed area in disregard of China's grave concerns".
Comments from China are 'disrespectful'
Climax yet to arrive. Dalai Lama's visit to the Tawang monastery in Arunachal next month is likely to irk Beijing more
Instead of coming out with a short rebuttal, which India generally does, MEA spokesman Vishnu Prakash gave a detailed statement and a lesson on Indian democracy to China. "The Chinese side is well aware of this position of the Government of India. It is a well established practice in our democratic system that our leaders visit states where elections to parliament and to the state assemblies are taking place. The government of India is deeply committed to ensuring the welfare of its own citizens across the length and breadth of our country."
India expressed its "disappointment and concern over the statement made by the official spokesman of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs, since this does not help the process of ongoing negotiations between the two governments on the boundary question".
The prime minister's visit may have irritated Beijing, but the scheduled trip of the Dalai Lama to the Tawang monastery in November will create a furore in Beijing.
China is keen to get the Tawang monastery from India, on the grounds that it rightly belongs to the people of Tibet. But the pragmatic consideration is that the Dalai may name his successor from the monastery town. The Dalai is India's trump card and is regarded as enemy number one by Beijing.
From the Opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the Chinese comments were not only "strong worded but disrespectful as well".
He also said that external affairs minister SM Krishna's statements on China have been very casual. Rudy said the government should give a strong rebuff to China and the BJP will support any tough stand by the government.
Copyright 2009 DNA Media, distributed by Contify.com
"It's A new ping-pong between india AND china." DNA [Daily News & Analysis] 13 Oct. 2009. Educator's Reference Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2009.
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