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China ire over India border visit

October 14, 2009

October 13, 2009

China has strongly criticised a visit by Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh to the disputed north-east Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Chinese foreign ministry accused Mr Singh of ignoring Beijing's concerns.

China claims large areas of Arunachal Pradesh which lies on the
Himalayan border it shares with India. Delhi said the remarks "do not
help" border talks.

Analysts say China is angry over a trip planned by exiled Tibetan
leader the Dalai Lama to the state in November.

Mr Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh earlier this month ahead of state
assembly polls which were held on Tuesday. In January 2008 he made
the first prime ministerial visit to the mountainous state in more
than 10 years.

China and India fought a brief border war in 1962 - partly over
Arunachal Pradesh - and the frontier has yet to be settled despite
several rounds of talks.

'Boundary question'

"We demand the Indian side address China's serious concerns and not
trigger disturbances in the disputed region so as to facilitate the
healthy development of China-India relations," Chinese foreign
ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement posted on the
ministry's web site.

'China bashing' in Indian media

The Indian foreign ministry responded by saying that Arunachal
Pradesh is an "integral and inalienable part of India".

It said that China's criticisms "did not help the process of ongoing
negotiations between the two governments on the boundary question".

Beijing claims 90,000 sq km of land that comprises Arunachal Pradesh
which it sees as "southern" Tibet.

It has also expressed displeasure over a planned visit by the Dalai
Lama to the state's Tawang monastery in November.

"The Chinese don't want the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh at
any cost," Nanigopal Mahanta, who teaches politics at Guwahati
university, told the BBC's Subir Bhaumik.

Much of China's territorial claims in the Himalayas are based on
areas Tibet controlled before it was taken over by the Chinese.

"So if a Tibetan leader like the Dalai Lama visits Arunachal Pradesh
and says the whole state is part of India and was never part of
Tibet, that takes the wind out of the Chinese claims," Mr Mahanta said.


Our correspondent says that when India and China enjoyed better
relations, especially in the late 1990s, Delhi did not allow the
Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh or any area contested by China.

The Chinese reciprocated by opening border trade on the Nathu La pass
after 40 years - a move many in India saw as recognition of Indian
control over Sikkim.

But our correspondent says that changed after India started
developing the "strategic relationship" with the US, which raised
fears of encirclement in the Chinese security establishment.

Trade between China and India has flourished in recent years, but
several border disputes - including over Kashmir and Sikkim - have
never been resolved.

China remains India's largest trading partner, with two-way trade
volumes crossing $50bn in 2008.

Mistrust between Delhi and Beijing has recently gained momentum with
reports in the Indian media of Chinese incursions along the border.

There were also protests by a member of India's governing Congress
party earlier this month after the Chinese embassy issued different
visas to residents of Indian-administered Kashmir.
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