China has expressed its opposition to a visit by India’s Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, to Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims is part of its territory. China has renamed some places in the region, which India regards as its eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Speaking at the launch of a programme called “Vibrant Villages” in Kibithoo, a border village in Arunachal Pradesh, Shah said that all Indians could sleep peacefully in their homes thanks to the hard work of the security forces on India’s borders. Border areas are the “first priority” of the Indian government, he added.
The two countries have had several skirmishes over the disputed border area, and clashes in mountainous regions in recent years have seriously strained ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours. The latest trade of barbs between the neighbours was triggered early in April when China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a statement in which it said it had “standardised” the names of 11 places, including five mountains, in what China calls its southern Tibet region.
The statement included a map that showed the 11 places renamed by China as being within “Zangnan”, or southern Tibet in Chinese, with Arunachal Pradesh included in southern Tibet and China’s border with India demarcated as just north of the Brahmaputra river. India’s foreign ministry rejected the move, with a spokesman saying: “Arunachal Pradesh is, has been and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India.”
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said on Monday that “Zangnan is China’s territory”. He added that Shah’s visit to Zangnan violated China’s territorial sovereignty and was not conducive to the peace and tranquillity of the border situation.
The two countries fought a war along parts of their poorly demarcated 3,800km (2,360-mile) frontier in 1962. Clashes in mountainous regions in recent years have further strained relations between the two nations.
Shah’s comments at the launch of the “Vibrant Villages” programme in Kibithoo were reported by local media. He said that the entire country could sleep peacefully in their homes thanks to the hard work of the security forces on India’s borders. Border areas are the “first priority” of the Indian government, the home minister said. “Times when anyone could encroach on Indian land have passed. Today no one can even occupy land equal to a needle point,” he added.