Friday, 16 October 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
MEA asserts Beijing has no locus standi to comment on 44 strategic bridges, reiterates ‘Ladakh, J&K will remain an integral part of India’
On a day when Chinese President Xi Jinping asked his troops to “prepare for war”, India on Thursday categorically rejected Beijing’s objection to opening of 44 bridges in border areas, including Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, saying China has no locus standi to comment on India’s internal matters.
The strong assertion by the Ministry of External Affairs came here two days after Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, in Beijing had called border infrastructure development “the root cause for tension between the two sides” and said neither country should take action that might escalate tensions.
India’s rebuttal also came against the backdrop of continuing tension at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Jinping asking his troops to “prepare for war” according to state news agency Xinhua. “Troops should “maintain a state of high alert… Put all (your) minds and energy into preparing for war,” China’s State news agency Xinhua quoted Xi Jinping as saying.
Troops should be “absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable”, the Chinese President said during his visit to Marine corps of PLA in Chaozhou City. Sources said the President’s remarks were “not specifically directed at India,” even though it
came amid the border dispute in Ladakh.
MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava also brushed aside China’s remark saying it does not recognise the Ladakh Union Territory.
This claim by the Chinese spokesperson came a day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday inaugurated 44 permanent bridges, including eight in Ladakh and the same number in Arunachal Pradesh. These bridges will significantly bolster the logistical supplies to the troops deployed on the LAC facing China and the LoC with Pakistan.
Countering Beijing’s contention, Srivastava made it amply clear here on Thursday that “the Union Territories of Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir have been, are and will remain an integral part of India”.
Maintaining that China has no locus standi to comment on internal matters of India, he also said, “Our position on Arunachal Pradesh has been made clear several times. Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India. This fact has also been clearly conveyed to the Chinese side on several occasions, including at the highest level.”
Elaborating on India’s stand, the spokesperson also said New Delhi hopes that “countries will not comment on India’s internal matters, as much as they expect the same of others”.
The Chinese spokesperson had questioned the status of Ladakh and said, “First I want to make it clear that China does not recognise the Ladakh Union Territory illegally set up by the Indian side and Arunachal Pradesh. We stand against the development of infrastructure facilities aimed at military contention along the border area,” the Chinese spokesperson had said.
“Based on consensus, neither should take actions along the border that might escalate the situation that is to avoid undermining the efforts by the two sides to ease the situation. We urge the Indian side to earnestly implement our consensus and refrain from actions that might escalate the situation and take concrete measures to safeguard peace and tranquility along the border,” said Zhao.
China has repeatedly raised objection over Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh after it was given the status of a Union Territory last year. It came about after the abrogation of Article 370 giving special status to Jammu & Kashmir.
Incidentally, in the backdrop of the continuing stand-off at the LAC and successive rounds of military and diplomatic level talks failing to break the five-month long logjam, this is the second time in the past few weeks when China has raised questions about Ladakh Union Territory.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said India and China are engaged in talks to resolve the border standoff and what is going on is “something confidential” between the two sides. He said there has been a troop build-up along the LAC and in many ways it has no precedence in the recent past.
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