Press Trust of india

Jaishankar dismisses China’s claims on Arunachal Pradesh as ‘ludicrous’

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Singapore:  External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday dismissed China’s repeated claims on Arunachal Pradesh as “ludicrous” and asserted that the frontier state was a “natural part of India”.

In probably his first public comments on China’s frequent claims on Arunachal Pradesh and its opposition to Indian leaders visiting the state, Jaishankar said it was not a new issue.

“This is not a new issue. I mean China has laid claim, it has expanded its claim. The claims are ludicrous to begin with and remain ludicrous today,” he said in response to a question on the Arunachal issue after delivering a lecture at the prestigious Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) of the National University of Singapore (NUS) here.

Jaishankar, who arrived here on Saturday on a three-day visit, emphasised that Arunachal Pradesh was a “natural part of India.”

“So, I think we’ve been very clear, very consistent on this. And I think you know that is something which will be part of the boundary discussions which are taking place,” he said.

Responding to another question, Jaishankar said the challenge for India today is how to find the sustainable equilibrium between two rising powers, who also happen to be neighbours, and who have a history and a population, which sets them apart from the rest of the world and who also have capabilities.

“So this is a very, very complex challenge,” he said.

Jaishankar said it came as a “great surprise” to India when the Chinese in 2020 “chose to do something on the border, which was completely violative of agreements we had reached”.

The minister was referring to the Eastern Ladakh border standoff, which erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake area. The Eastern Ladakh standoff has resulted in a virtual freeze of bilateral ties on all fronts except trade.

India has been pressing the People’s Liberation Army to disengage from the Depsang and Demchok, maintaining that there cannot be restoration of normalcy in its relations with China as long as the state of the borders remains abnormal.

“Instead of actually solidifying the foundation for an equilibrium, they (the Chinese side) went and disturbed the condition,” he said.

Jaishankar said the boundary solution can take its time. “We don’t argue with that. It’s a very complex issue. We’re not talking about solving the boundary dispute. We are talking about maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border,” he said.

When asked if Singapore can help China and India to normalise their ties, Jaishankar emphasised that New Delhi dealt directly with Beijing.

“We don’t have any of those problems with China,” he said, adding that “I am in touch with my counterpart (Wang Yi).” He also noted that the embassies of India and China were there in both countries.

Jaishankar said there is no issue of “miscommunication or misunderstanding” between India and China. Both countries have signed written agreements on the border issue. “It has been working till 2020. So why don’t we sit down and sort out and figure out how we continue that peace and tranquillity which we maintained for so long.”

He also noted that from 1975 till 2020 nobody got killed on that border. So for 45 years, it worked. “Until we have that stabilisation of the border, to me, it is illogical to expect that the equilibrium building the relationship building, doing more things will move forward, because it will naturally engender enormous distrust,” he said.

“I think it’s important, really not to lose the woods for the trees,” he said.

Jaishankar also did not directly respond to a question about whether India  moved 10,000 soldiers from its western border to that in the east, saying “There are times when we have better things to do than to deny what people might float.”

“There might be a report here or not, which may be true or not. I think no sensible government confirms troop movements, least of all to someone from a foreign newspaper,” he said in response to a question posed by a Singapore-based journalist.

Jaishankar’s comments on India’s stand on the status of Arunachal Pradesh came days after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) dismissed the Chinese defence ministry’s assertions.

Earlier, the Chinese foreign ministry had objected to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

“We reject the comments made by the Chinese side regarding the visit of the Prime Minister to Arunachal Pradesh. Indian leaders visit Arunachal Pradesh from time to time, as they visit other States of India,” the MEA said in a separate response last week.

Objecting to such visits or India’s developmental projects does not stand to reason. Further, it will “not change the reality that the State of Arunachal Pradesh was, is, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India,” the MEA response said.

“The Chinese side has been made aware of this consistent position on several occasions,” it added.

 

 

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