Days after talks to resolve a 17-month military standoff between India and China stalled, the Asian rivals are involved in a new war of words over a recent visit by the Indian vice president to Arunachal Pradesh, a state in eastern India claimed by China.
The exchanges indicate deepening tensions between the two countries, which have bolstered troops massively along disputed stretches of their Himalayan border according to security experts.
After Beijing raised objections to Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu’s visit over the weekend to the remote Himalayan state, India reacted sharply, calling Arunachal Pradesh “an integral and inalienable part of India.”
“Indian leaders routinely travel to the state of Arunachal Pradesh as they do to any other states of India. Objecting to the visit of Indian leaders to a state of India does not stand to reason and understanding of the Indian people, " Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
Earlier on Wednesday Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a press briefing that China “firmly opposed” the visit of the Indian leader and called on New Delhi “to stop taking actions that would complicate and expand the boundary issue.”
He urged India to respect China’s concerns and take “real actions” to maintain peace and stability in border areas.
Arunachal Pradesh lies in eastern India, away from Ladakh in the western Himalayas where troops from both sides have been locked in a faceoff. But security analysts have warned that it could also become a flashpoint -- its status has long been a disputed matter, with Beijing claiming it as a part of south Tibet.