China on Monday criticised a visit by Indian defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman to Arunachal Pradesh, saying her tour of the “disputed area” is not conducive to the peace and tranquillity of the region.
The latest Chinese comments come barely two months after New Delhi and Beijing decided to move ahead with ties after a 73-day-long tense standoff on Bhutan’s Doklam plateau.
Sitharaman had, over the weekend, visited forward army posts in the remote Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh bordering China. This was her first visit to the region that was aimed at taking stock of defence preparedness in Arunachal Pradesh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto, but disputed, border between the two countries. Sitharaman also tweeted pictures of her visit, including her meeting with Indian Army officers.
“As to Indian defence minister’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, you must be very clear about China’s position,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing.
“An Indian official going to a disputed region on the China-India border will perhaps make the issue even more complex, and is not beneficial to efforts by both parties to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border,” Hua said.
“There is a dispute on the eastern section of the China- India boundary. So this visit by the Indian side to the disputed area is not conducive to the peace and tranquillity of the relevant region,” she said. “(We) hope India will work (with) China for the shared goal, (to) seek a solution acceptable to both sides and accommodate our concerns in a balanced way,” she added.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet and routinely objects to top Indian leaders visiting the remote state.
In April, China had slammed India’s decision to give the go-ahead to a visit to Arunachal Pradesh by the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, saying it could cause serious damage to relations.
The LAC between India and China stretches 3,488km without a clearly demarcated border between the Asian giants who fought a brief but bitter border war in 1962. Both sides have held 19 rounds of talks through special representatives to resolve the dispute.
Livemint with PTI and Reuters contributed to this story.