Home minister defends India’s claim to disputed region as Beijing slams visit

(Update: adds Indian home minister speech, changes lede, headline)

Beijing/New Delhi, Apr 10 (EFE).- India’s home minister Amit Shah defended his country’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh during a visit Monday to the disputed Himalayan region that New Delhi controls but which is also claimed by Beijing.

“Today, no one can take even an inch of our land,” Shah said during a lengthy speech littered with references to the two Asian powers’ brief 1962 war for control of the region.

Shah’s remarks came after China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters that Beijing “firmly” opposes the visit, which Wang said violates “China’s territorial sovereignty” and “does not contribute to the border peace and tranquility” between the two rival neighbors.

The region, which Beijing calls Zangnan, meaning “southern Tibet,” is “China’s territory,” the spokesperson said.

Shah began his visit to Arunachal Pradesh on Monday to inaugurate a village development program in a town near the border with China.

According to an official statement, the minister will also inaugurate nine micro hydro projects in the state and will also unveil Indo-Tibetan Border Police projects to boost infrastructure and interact with the border guards.

Earlier this month, China drew criticism from India over what New Delhi described as China’s “attempts to assign invented names” to several places in Arunachal Pradesh, a border state in the northeast of India.

The sovereignty of Arunachal Pradesh has been a subject of dispute between India and China since the creation of the Indian state.

The Arunachal border dispute led to the India-China War in 1962, during which China captured most of the disputed state before withdrawing.

India and China have a historic dispute over several Himalayan regions; Beijing claims Arunachal Pradesh, while India claims the China-controlled Aksai Chin that borders the Ladakh region in the north.

In 2017, Beijing renamed several places in Arunachal Pradesh, days after Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama visited the region and criticized Chinese politicians.

Four years later, it issued another set of standardized names.

Bilateral relations between India and China have been strained since a border clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 in the western Himalayas.

It marked the worst clash in 45 years between the nuclear powers, in which at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 wounded, while Beijing said four of its troops died and one seriously wounded.

Both powers reacted to the conflict by sending troops to the LAC, the disputed de facto border that divides both countries, before beginning to withdraw them.

Since then, New Delhi and Beijing have tried to resolve the crisis through diplomatic channels. EFE


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