By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, April 7: After complaining against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, China is now learnt to have objected to President Pratibha Patil’s tour of the state last week that included a visit to Tawang, according to a media report.
While there is no official word yet, sources confirmed that Beijing has “taken up the matter” with New Delhi, Indian Express reported.
In reaction, Indian govt has reportedly reaffirmed its stand that Arunachal is an integral part of the country and leaders are free to travel to any part of the state. “The other side is well aware of our clear and consistent position,” Indian Express quoted official sources in New Delhi as saying.
Prez Patil visited Arunachal Pradesh during her four-day North East tour last week and went to Tawang, which China has staked claim to several times in the past. Patil, also as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, visited the War Memorial for Indian soldiers who died in the 1962 war with China and interacted with troops on the border.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Sunday indicated the country was not pleased with the latest development. “The two sides should make joint efforts to effectively carry out the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, to ensure the healthy and stable development of bilateral relations”, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang reportedly said in Beijing, in response to questions on Patil’s visit.
A report by the Times of India on April 2, however, cited senior army officials, who did not want to be quoted, as saying that the President's visit was a diplomatic message to China, reiterating that the state was an integral part of India.
Early last year, the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh visited the state and laid the foundation stone for a number of development projects, including a railway link between Itanagar and Assam. Defence minister AK Antony also paid a visit the same year.
While the PM avoided a visit to Tawang, Antony visited the region in March and reportedly addressed troops on the border.
Beijing’s complaint against the PM’s visit in February last year swelled into a controversy, prompting External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to reaffirm that the PM has the right to visit any part of the country.
Beijing is especially sensitive about Tawang that was briefly occupied by the Chinese Army after the 1962 war.
China claims that the whole of the state is its territory as “South Tibet”. It bases its claim over the border state on the basis of the fact that the Sixth Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso was born in Tawang.
Indian Prez last week visited Tawang and its landmark heritage site the 400-year- old Tawang Monastery.