Responding to the provocative statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, on October 13, the spokesperson for External Affairs Ministry, Arindam Bagchi, dismissed any ambiguity in relation to Arunachal Pradesh's status in the country.
In addition, the MEA urged Beijing to 'work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh' rather than 'trying to link unrelated issues'. The reply holds relevance as the Xi Jinping-led administration were said to have 'firmly opposed' Vice President Vekaiah Naidu's visit to Arunachal Pradesh on October 9.
Dismissing China's self-made locus in internal interests and matters of the country, Bagchi said that Beijing's objection to the visit of an Indian leader to one of the Indian states (Arunachal Pradesh) was beyond the 'understanding of Indian people'.
"We have noted the comments made today by the Chinese official spokesperson. We reject such comments. Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India. Indian leaders routinely travel to the state of Arunachal Pradesh as they do to any other state of India. Objecting to the visit of Indian leaders to a state of India does not stand to reason and understanding of Indian people," the External Affairs Ministry stated.
Notably, the MEA spokesperson countered China's self-imposed face-off at Line of Actual Control (LAC) and its 'unilateral attempts' to alter the notional demarcation line between two sovereign Asian countries.
"Further, as we have mentioned earlier, the current situation along the LAC in the Western Sector of the India-China border areas has been caused by unilateral attempts of the Chinese side to alter the status quo in violation of the bilateral agreements."
"Therefore, we expect the Chinese side to work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols rather than trying to link unrelated issues,” Indian responded to China.
In an opportunity to buttress its stand, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian asserted that Arunachal Pradesh is not recognised as an Indian state by Beijing. Lijian was asked by a Chinese state-affiliated media house to comment on VP Naidu's visit to the state.
The spokesperson said,
"The Chinese government never recognises the so-called Arunachal Pradesh established unilaterally and illegally by the Indian side, and is firmly opposed to the Indian leaders' visits to the area concerned. We urge the Indian side to earnestly respect China's major concerns, stop taking any action that would complicate and expand the boundary issue and refrain from undermining mutual trust and bilateral relations."
"It should instead take real concrete actions to maintain peace and stability in the China-India border areas and help bring the bilateral relations back on to the track of sound and steady development."
While India perceives China as illegally occupying 38,000 sq km in Aksai Chin in the western sector, China claims up to 90,000 sq km of eastern Arunachal Pradesh as a part of Tibet. While recent tensions have been focused on Ladakh, both militaries also engaged in a face-off in Uttarakhand and recently in Tawang in Arunachal after a face-off near Yangtse.
VP Naidu visited Arunachal Pradesh to address a special session of the state assembly. The Vice President said that a visible transformation of the northeastern states is a clear indication of resurgence in the region's pace of development that remained ignored for decades.
China's remarks come at a time when New Delhi and Beijing failed to make any progress in 13th Commander-level talks in resolving the year-long standoff in the remaining fiction points in eastern Ladakh. The military standoff erupted in Ladakh after a violent clash in the Pangong lake area on May 5 last year.