India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise.
New Delhi: In a major development, China on Tuesday became the second country after Pakistan to object to India’s bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir — especially with regard to the creation of a separate Union territory for Ladakh — with the Chinese government saying India had “continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law”, that it was “unacceptable” and that Beijing was “opposed” to inclusion of the Chinese territory in Indian “administrative jurisdiction”.
The reference was obviously to the fact that India’s geographical boundary for the Union territory of Ladakh extends to Aksai Chin — the easternmost part of J&K state — which is now under Chinese occupation. Home minister Amit Shah reiterated in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that both Aksai Chin and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir very much remain Indian territory as per India’s consistent position. New Delhi immediately responded to the Chinese statement, saying the creation of the “new Union territory of Ladakh was an internal matter concerning the territory of India”, and that while “India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries”, it “similarly expects other countries to do likewise”.
China also said it was “seriously concerned about the current situation in Jammu Kashmir” and that “relevant sides need to exercise restraint and act prudently”, besides “refraining from taking actions that will unilaterally change the status quo and escalate tensions”.
The strong Chinese reaction has come at a particularly awkward moment for New Delhi, as it comes just ahead of external affairs minister S. Jaishankar’s visit to China from August 11 to 13 and Beijing may well raise the issue strongly with him. Mr Jaishankar’s trip is seen as a preparatory visit ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s expected visit to India in October this year for the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a hard-hitting statement, the Chinese foreign ministry said in Beijing: “China is always opposed to India’s inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction. This firm and consistent position remains unchanged. Recently India has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law. Such practice is unacceptable and will not come into force. We urge India to exercise prudence in words and deeds concerning the boundary question, strictly abide by relevant agreements concluded between the two sides and avoid taking any move that may further complicate the boundary question.”
India immediately responded, saying: “The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019, introduced by the government in Parliament on 5 August, which proposes the formation of a new ‘Union Territory of Ladakh’, is an internal matter concerning the territory of India. India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise.”
New Delhi added: “So far as the India-China Boundary Question is concerned, the two sides have agreed to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question on the basis of the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of India-China Boundary Question. Pending such a settlement, both sides have agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas on the basis of the relevant agreements.”