New Delhi: A day after Beijing said that New Delhi should refrain from taking any action that could "complicate" the border issue involving Arunachal Pradesh, Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday reiterated that the northeastern state is an integral part of India.
Speaking to reporters, Antony said, “I was surprised to read the Chinese reaction. It is very sad and highly objectionable. Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. As the Defence Minister of India it is my duty to ensure that all the borders of India are safe."
"Statements by China are objectionable. Arunachal Pradesh is a part of India like J&K. Northeast and any other state of India. As Defence Minister I can visit anywhere within my country," he added.
The Defence Minister’s remarks came after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei "asked India to work with China to maintain peace and stability in border areas" and objected to Antony’s visit to the state.
Hong stated that China advocates seeking a fair and rational solution through equal and friendly negotiations, adding Beijing’s stance on Sino-Indian border issues, including disputes regarding the eastern section, has been consistent and clear-cut.
The Chinese diplomat also called on India to desist from taking any action that could complicate the issue.
In his speech at the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Arunachal Pradesh at Itanagar on February 20, Antony had said, "We are aware of the challenges which people living in border areas face and it is our collective duty to ensure that our border areas are developed as any other part of the country."
Referring to the highly-sensitive nature of the state, he said that the importance of a secure, non-porous international border must continue to be the topmost priority area of the Centre.
"Arunachalees have always been known to be fiercely patriotic and yield to none in their love for the motherland," he had said.
The latest Chinese assertion on Arunachal Pradesh came more than a month after special representatives of India and China held the 15th round of boundary talks here to discuss a framework that can form the basis for resolving their decades-old boundary dispute.
Beijing`s claims on Arunachal Pradesh are part of the boundary negotiations between the two rising Asian powers.
In the boundary negotiations, China has hardened stance on Arunachal Pradesh, part of its negotiating tactic to extract concessions from India in any final boundary settlement. Last month, China had denied visa to a senior Indian Air Force officer to visit that country as part of a defence delegation visiting that country. This had prompted New Delhi to scale down the size of the delegation.
With Agency Input