By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 30 Aug: China’s Ministry of Natural Resources has released a new edition of the map on Monday that includes India’s state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin region as part of its territory, arousing strong protest and responses from Indian ministers and army veterans.
India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, while speaking with NDTV, called Beijing’s tactics an ‘old habit,’ stating, “China has even in the past put out maps which claim the territories that are not China’s, which belong to other countries. This is an old habit of theirs. It is not something that is new. It started in the 1950s…” reported Indian Express on Wednesday.
Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, has said the government “has lodged a strong protest through diplomatic channels with the Chinese side on the so-called 2023 ‘standard map’ of China that lays claim to India’s territory,” and added that Beijing’s move only exacerbates the two nations’ efforts in resolving their border conflicts.
The two giants of Asia and nuclear-armed neighbors have seen their relations nose-dive following the clash of soldiers from both sides in June 2020, resulting in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese troops.
Despite a number of high-level talks between New Delhi and Beijing, their border disputes continue to surface, mainly with undiplomatic moves coming from Beijing.
China’s latest antics – the so-called ‘standard map’ – come amid the prospect of some resolution as spectators hoped after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to China’s President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit last week. Xi is stated to be present at the 18th G20 Summit, to be held in New Delhi in September.
In April this year, China released a map that renamed 11 places in the state of Arunachal Pradesh as their territory, calling it a part of southern Tibet.
In response to China’s issuance of a ‘stapled visa’ instead of a ‘stamped visa’ to Indian athletes from the Arunachal state in July – a move that was meant to challenge India’s sovereignty over the state – the exasperated member of the Indian Parliament, Shashi Tharoor, said “Enough is enough. Instead of frustrating our sportsmen and every other Arunachali seeking a Chinese visa, we should simply start issuing stapled visas ourselves, to anyone applying for an Indian visa from Tibet. And say we will continue to do so until the disputed border between Tibet and India is settled.”
China’s relentless pursuit of its claim of India’s largest northeast state as its territory through various audacious tactics has opened the eyes of both Indian politicians and military personnel to the reality of Beijing’s insincerity in their talks and its expansionist agenda.
India’s former army chief Ved Malik asked, “Shouldn’t India declare the old status of Tibet and drop the ‘one China’ policy?” Colonel NS Malhan also questioned and opined that it’s time for India to relook at its Tibet Policy. An Indian Navy veteran, Pramod Tyagi, rhetorically asked, “Why can we denounce the one China policy and recognize Tibet as an independent state? Why must India follow rules while others don’t?
In addition to Indian territory, China’s new map also incorporates Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea as part of its territory.