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Harried China less belligerent on Indian President’s Arunachal visit

(TibetanReview.net, Nov30, 2013) Embroiled in a major dispute over the East China Sea’s airspace with several countries since Nov 23, China has on Nov 29 reacted rather mildly to a two-day visit to the state of Arunachal Pradesh by India’s President Mr Pranab Mukherjee beginning that day. China stakes claim over this border state of India on the basis of its claim over Tibet, calling the area since 2006 “southern Tibet”. It had reacted with a sharp rebuke when in 2009, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the state.

At that time, China said it was “deeply upset” about his visit to the “disputed region”. Its Foreign Ministry further said China’s position on the “disputed area of the eastern section of the China-India boundary is consistent and clear-cut”.

However, the ministry’s response this time was sober and guarded and devoid of any protest, noted India’s PTI news service Nov 29. It has only expressed hope that India would refrain from “actions that complicate the boundary question”.

“We hope that the Indian side could meet China halfway to safeguard the overall interests of bilateral relations, refrain from taking actions that complicate the boundary question, work together with us to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas and create conditions for boundary negotiations,” PTI quoted the Chinese Foreign Ministry as saying.

PTI said the ministry stated its position in a written reply to its query, seeking reaction to Mukherjee’s visit. China has further said in its response, “China-India relationship maintains a sound momentum of growth, with the two sides exploring ways to solve the boundary question through friendly consultations at the special representatives’ meeting.”

China has also previously prevented the Asian Development Bank from funding water projects in this northeastern Indian state, calling it a disputed territory.

On Nov 23, China declared an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, which included the airspace over the Japanese owned Senkaku islets but claimed by it as the Diaoyu. China followed up on its announcement by carrying out an air patrol over the zone, with the use of fighter jets. Both Japan and the USA accused Beijing of escalating the dispute with its unilateral action and said the move could lead to dangerous consequence. The USA flew two B-52 bombers over the zone in an act of defying the Chinese move while Japan also sent up civilian flights over the disputed airspace. Australia, South Korea and the Philippines also criticized China’s new aggressive move.

India first recognized Tibet as part of China with their so-called Panchsheel agreement (the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence) of 1954, which was essentially a trade agreement between Tibet’s two giant neighbours.

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