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Day after Nirmala Sitharaman visited Army posts in Arunachal’s Anjaw district, China reacted sharply to defence minister’s visit to a “disputed area”

A day after Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman made her first visit to Arunachal Pradesh, touring forward Army posts in the state’s Anjaw district, China reacted sharplyon Monday saying the development was “not conducive to the peace and tranquility of the relevant region”.

India and China have regularly been sparring over large areas within Arunachal Pradesh with the communist country repeatedly asserting its claim over these regions. Expectedly, the Union defence minister’s visit to areas in Arunachal that share a border with China has not gone down well with Beijing.

On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told media persons in Beijing: “As to Indian Defence Minister visit to Arunachal Pradesh, you must be very clear about China’s position…There is a dispute on the eastern section of the China-India boundary. So this visit by the Indian side to the disputed area is not conducive to the peace and tranquillity of the relevant region.”

Chunying insisted that the “Indian side should work with the Chinese side to properly resolve the issue through dialogue and create enabling environment and conditions,” while she expressed hope that “India will work with China for the shared goal; seek a solution acceptable to both sides and accommodate our concerns in a balanced way.”

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet and routinely objects to top Indian officials’ visit to the area.

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China stretches to 3,488 kms. Both sides have held 19 rounds of talks by the Special Representatives to resolve the dispute.

The reaction from Beijing to Sitharaman’s visit to the border areas of Arunachal is quite in contrast to the somewhat positive publicity that the defence minister had managed to garner when she visited Nathu La area on the India-China border in Sikkim last month. During her visit to Nathu La, Sitharaman had greeted the People’s Liberation Army soldiers across the border and a video of her trying to teach the Chinese soldiers to say ‘Namaste’ had gone viral in India with many BJP sympathizers hailing her ‘peace and diplomacy initiative’. Clearly, her second visit to a region bordering China, didn’t go down too well with Beijing.

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