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China demands ‘caution’, ‘restraint’ as India opens nation’s longest bridge to link border state of Arunachal

Bhupen Hazarika Bridge.
Bhupen Hazarika Bridge.

(TibetanReview.net, May31, 2017) – After Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi launched the country’s longest bridge, linking the border states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, the week before, China on May 29 demanded that New Delhi be “cautious” and exercise “restraint” over building infrastructure in the latter state. China calls Arunachal Pradesh a disputed territory, laying sovereignty over the state on the basis of its claim over neighbouring Tibet.

“We hope India adopts a cautious and restrained attitude on the issue before the final settlement of the border issue with China to jointly control disputes, safeguard peace and tranquility in the border areas,” the IANS news agency May 29 quoted the Chinese Foreign Ministry as saying.

“China’s position on the eastern section of the Sino-Indian border areas is consistent and clear,” the Chinese statement in Chinese was quoted as saying. It has said the two countries should resolve territorial disputes through negotiations and consultations.

The 9.15 km-long bridge over the Brahmaputra river connects Assam’s easternmost region of Sadiya with Arunachal Pradesh, which China recently began to describe as South Tibet, even renaming some of the places within the state.

Modi said the Dhola-Sadiya bridge will serve as the foundation for a new economic revolution and help India in its efforts to become a superpower. It is named as Bhupen Hazarika Bridge afterlegendary lyricist-singer Bhupen Hazarika who hailed from Sadiya.

Speaking on the Act East Policy, the Prime Minister said he wanted the northeast region to become a trade hub for southeast Asia by connecting the area for economic activity. “Stress is now being laid on what was never done earlier… Electricity, roads, rail infrastructure and optical fibre network in the northeast will connect every corner of the region with the country,” timesofindia.com May 29 quoted Modi as saying.

The bridge will reduce travel distance between the two Indian states by 165 km and travel time by five hours. Reports said it was especially designed to withstand a load of 60-ton armored tanks, highlighting the bridge’s strategic significance. The report cited analysts as saying the bridge will ensure swift movement of Indian troops in Arunachal Pradesh, which, therefore, will bolster India’s defence along the China border.

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