China reiterates Arunachal claim amid reports of a road-building border intrusion

Representative Image. (Courtesy: Outlook Magazine)
Representative Image. (Courtesy: Outlook Magazine)

(, Jan05, 2018) – China has made it clear Jan 3 that it had “never recognised the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’” while refusing to give an immediate response to reports of a road-building border intrusion into the state late last month.

“First, I need to point out that China’s position on the China-India boundary issue is consistent and clear, and we have never recognised the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’,” Jan 3 quoted China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang as saying.

“Second, I am not aware of the details you mentioned. China and India have established a mature management mechanism for border-related issues, and the two sides can handle various border affairs through relevant mechanism.”

In a move somewhat reminiscent of the Jun-Aug 2017 Doklam standoff which was said to have brought the two countries to the brink of war, Chinese workers entered India’s Arunachal Pradesh state on Dec 26 and tried to build a road but were stopped and sent back by Indian border security troops on Dec 28. Only this time, the Chinese workers were civilians, with the incident having occurred near Bishing in the Tuting area, and there was no direct contact between troops from the two sides of the undefined Line of Actual Control (LAC).

While turning back the Chinese workers to their side of the LAC, the Indian Army and the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) troops were reported to have seized their road construction equipment.

The Chinese track construction, taking place nearly 400 metres inside Arunachal Pradesh, was reported to have been noticed by local residents who informed the ITBP. The area has now been barricaded, and jointly manned by the ITBP and Army.

The Jan 4 cited official sources as saying the issue was being resolved through established coordination mechanisms between the two countries. The report said it was unusual for the Chinese to undertake track construction in the area, more so during winter months.

The report also cited a senior Indian official as saying the incident was nothing out of the ordinary since perceptions of LAC differed between the two sides.

Geng has pointed out that upholding peace and tranquillity in China-India border areas served the common interests of both sides. And when asked whether India and China could be staring at another Doklam-type standoff, as the reported incident coincided with the 20th round of border talks between the two sides, Geng has said he did not visualise such a situation.

“With the concerted efforts of both sides, the incident that took place in Donglang (Doklam) last year has been peacefully resolved. Besides, at the end of last year, the two sides held the 20th round of special representatives’ meeting on the boundary issue and sent out positive message to the outside world,” report quoted Geng as saying.

China lays claim over the whole of Arunachal Pradesh state, having taken to describe the territory as south or southern Tibet in recent years.


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