- Bumla pass at the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh, Oct. 21.
India and China are engaged in a fresh territorial row after Beijing recently started issuing passports showing two disputed regions as its own.
The face-off began a few weeks back, after India discovered Beijing issuing new biometric passports depicting two areas along the countries’ 4,000-kilometer disputed Himalayan border as part of China.
One of the areas, Arunachal Pradesh, is a northeastern Indian state that Beijing briefly captured in a 1962 border war and still claims as part of China. The other, Aksai Chin, also a focus of the 1962 war, is administered as part of China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region but claimed in its entirety by India.
“We are not prepared to accept it and we would not,” India’s foreign minister Salman Khurshid said in an interview to NDTV news channel last week, posted on the foreign ministry’s website. “We, therefore, ensure that our flags of disagreement are put up immediately when something happens.”
India has not officially complained to China about the issue, said Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman at India’s foreign ministry. Instead, the Indian embassy in Beijing has responded by issuing visas to Chinese nationals stamped with maps which show both Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as falling within India’s borders.
“Every country has a right to determination on its boundaries. The Chinese side have expressed its view on where its boundary lies. We have our own opinion,” Mr. Akbaruddin said.
China and India are yet to find a solution to their disputed borders despite a series of talks since 1981. China refers to Arunachal Pradesh as south Tibet. In 2009, it complained about a visit to the state by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying it was disputed territory. Beijing has denied visas to people seeking to travel to China from Arunachal Pradesh.
India and China also have been at loggerheads over the disputed region of Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in its entirety by both. In 2010, China, which backs Pakistan’s territorial claims, refused to issue visas in passports of Indians coming from Kashmir. Instead, it put those visas on a piece of paper stapled inside the passport, a signal that Beijing doesn’t recognize India’s administration of its portion of Kashmir. India complained and China reverted to issuing visas in Kashmiri residents’ passports.
India, however, claims both sides are working to sort out differences over their disputed frontier.
“We are in the process of agreeing on a framework to settle the boundary,” India’s National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi Monday, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.