India has lodged a strong protest with China over a new map that lays claim to territory New Delhi says is Indian, the latest tension between the two Asian neighbours over their mutual border.
The protest lodged by New Delhi on Tuesday followed reports in the Indian media that Beijing had released an official “standard map” showing the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin plateau as official Chinese territory.
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“We have today lodged a strong protest through diplomatic channels with the Chinese side on the so-called 2023 ‘standard map’ of China that lays claim to India’s territory,” India’s foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We reject these claims as they have no basis. Such steps by the Chinese side only complicate the resolution of the boundary question,” Bagchi said.
New Delhi said two areas on a map released by Beijing’s state-owned Global Times newspaper belong to India. One was India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China considers to be part of Tibet, and where the two countries fought a full-scale border war in 1962. The second was Aksai Chin, a high-altitude strategic corridor linking Tibet to western China.
The 2023 edition of China's standard map was officially released on Monday and launched on the website of the standard map service hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources. This map is compiled based on the drawing method of national boundaries of China and various countries… pic.twitter.com/bmtriz2Yqe
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 28, 2023
China claims Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas to be a part of southern Tibet and, in April, released a map renaming 11 places in the state as being within “Zangnan”, or southern Tibet in Chinese. Aksai Chin, a plateau in the western Himalayas, is claimed by India but controlled by China.
Earlier on Tuesday, India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar dismissed China’s territorial claims.
“Making absurd claims on India’s territory does not make it China’s territory,” Jaishankar told news channel NDTV. Relations between the two Asian neighbours plummeted after soldiers from both sides clashed in the Himalayas in June 2020, resulting in the death of 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers.
While the situation on the lengthy China-India frontier has been calm since the violence in 2020, stand-offs continue in a few pockets with tens of thousands of soldiers amassed on both sides of the frontier in the western Himalayas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that divides the rivals.
New Delhi’s protest over the map comes days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with China’s President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg last week and highlighted concerns about the disputed Himalayan frontier.
Beijing called the meeting a “candid and in-depth exchange of views”. India said Modi had stressed that “observing and respecting” the LAC was essential. Modi’s government has also pumped billions of dollars into connectivity projects on its side of the border to boost a civilian presence and establish new paramilitary battalions.