By Tenzin Monlam
PM Narendra Modi with Arunachal Pradesh CM Dorjee Khandu at Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh. Photo-PTI
DHARAMSHALA, February 19: The Indian government in response to China’s objection to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the “disputed state” of Arunachal Pradesh has said that Indian leaders and its people have every to visit any ‘integral part of India’.
PM Modi was on election campaign in the state on Thursday, which prompted the Chinese foreign ministry to lodge its protest against the visit by stating that China ‘firmly opposes’ the visit saying its creates obstructive conditions for talks over boundary issues and improvement of bilateral ties.
“China’s position on the China-India boundary question is consistent and clear-cut. The Chinese government has never recognized the so-called Arunachal Pradesh and is firmly opposed to the Indian leader's visit to the disputed area,” state-run news agency Xinhua quoted foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang as saying.
The Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, reacted saying, “Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. Our leaders and people have the right to visit Arunachal Pradesh.”
This was PM Modi’s first visit to the ‘disputed region’ since the Doklam standoff between the two super powers of Asia.
China regularly lodges protest against any leaders, foreign or Indian, visiting the state, whom China refer to as ‘South Tibet’ and claims territorial rights over the region.
Beijing protested to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to the state in November last year. Beijing also expressed opposition to the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit in April 2017 to the state and the Gyalwang Karmapa’s first ever visit to the state in 2016.
China had previously staked its claim over the territory by giving Chinese names to places within the disputed region.
India and China have so far held 20 rounds of talks through special representatives to resolve the border issue that stretches 3488 kilometers unsuccessfully.