India strongly rejects China's objection to VP Naidu's Arunachal visit

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India strongly rejects China's objection to VP Naidu's Arunachal visit

India on Wednesday angrily rejected China’s objection to a visit to Arunachal Pradesh by vice president M Venkaiah Naidu and again called on the Chinese side to work for the speedy resolution of the standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The terse exchange between the two countries highlighted tensions caused by the standoff in eastern Ladakh, which has dragged on for more than a year-and-half, and fresh face-offs between troops of the two sides in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh sectors of the LAC. Naidu made a two-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh over the weekend as part of a tour of the northeast, and addressed a special session of the state assembly in Itanagar on Saturday. Responding to a question on the visit from state-run media, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Beijing doesn’t recognise Arunachal Pradesh and is firmly opposed to visits to the region by Indian leaders. Hours later, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi rejected China’s objection to the visit and asserted that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. “We have noted the comments made today [Wednesday] by the Chinese official spokesperson. We reject such comments. Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India,” Bagchi said. “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,” he said. India’s demand for China to speed up the resolution of the standoff in eastern Ladakh was reiterated by Bagchi, who again accused the Chinese side of causing tensions along the LAC through unilateral attempts to “alter the status quo” in the border areas. “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 Chinese side to alter the status quo in violation of the bilateral agreements,” he said. “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,” Bagchi added. The raising of Naidu’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh by the Chinese state-run media was an indication that Beijing intentionally raked up the issued against the backdrop of the lingering tensions due to the LAC standoff. Replying to a question from Xinjiang Television, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao said: “China’s position on the boundary issue is consistent and clear. The Chinese government has never recognized the so-called Arunachal Pradesh established unilaterally and illegally by the Indian side and is firmly opposed to the Indian leader’s visit to the area concerned.”