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Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson says China never recognised Arunachal Pradesh, opposed to Indian leaders’ activities in disputed regions

Weeks after it took strong offence to Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to border outposts in Arunachal Pradesh, China has now expressed its reservations over the weekend visit of President Ram Nath Kovind to India’s eastern most state.

On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China had “never recognised Arunachal Pradesh” and insisted that Indian leaders should desist from visiting the state which the Communist country terms as a “disputed region”.

Kang, however, claimed that China wishes to seek a solution to the “border dispute” between the two countries over Arunachal Pradesh through talks.

President Kovind had visited Arunachal Pradesh over the weekend. During his visit, he inaugurated the newly built state legislative assembly in Itanagar and also addressed the valedictory session of the 40-years celebration of Vivekananda Kendra in the state capital.

In his address to legislators at the newly dedicated state assembly building, President Kovind had said: “For India, the state (Arunachal) is where the sun first rises… and from here light is spread across the country (sic)”.

Taking umbrage at President Kovind’s visit, Kang said on Monday: “Before the border issue is resolved, both sides (India and China) should jointly work hard to protect the peace and tranquility of the border region. China resolutely opposes Indian leaders’ activities in disputed regions.”

Sino-India ties are at an important stage in development, and China hopes India does not do anything to complicate the border issue but should instead “create conditions” for border talks and the healthy, stable development of relations, the Chinese official said.

The reaction from China against President Kovind’s visit comes weeks after the Communist country slammed Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s tour of border areas of Arunachal Pradesh. Sitharaman had, on November 5, made her first visit to Arunachal Pradesh after assuming charge of the defence ministry earlier this year. She had toured forward Army posts in the state’s Anjaw district during the visit.

The Chinese foreign ministry had then reacted to Sitharaman’s visit saying: “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 tranquility of the relevant region.”

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.

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