NEW DELHI - India and China were engaged in a verbal spat over a strategic
region that both claim as part of a decades-old border dispute, days ahead of a
visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The first salvo was fired by Chinese
Ambassador to New Delhi Sun Yuxi, who said in an interview broadcast late Monday
that the far northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh was part of Chinese
India and China were engaged in a
verbal spat over a strategic region that both claim as part of a
decades-old border dispute, days ahead of a visit by Chinese President Hu
"In our position, the whole of what you call the state of Arunachal Pradesh
is Chinese territory and Tawang (district) is only one place in it and we are
claiming all of that - that's our position," he told the CNN-IBN news channel.
India's Foreign Minister Pranab Mukerjee was quick to reject the claim early
"Arunachal is an integral part of India," Mukherjee told reporters at a
function in New Delhi.
The war of words comes shortly before Chinese President Hu's visit. Hu is to
arrive in New Delhi on November 20.
The dispute is the consequence of a brief but bitter border conflict in 1962
that left relations between the world's two most populous countries in shreds.
Beijing claims that the remote 90,000-square-kilometre Indian-administered
state of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to China.
ceasefire line is yet to be established but the unsettled frontier has remained
largely peaceful, thanks to agreements signed in 1993 and 1996.
Both sides have also signed an accord that commits New Delhi and Beijing to
"safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas,"
while solving the boundary dispute.
Reports say one of the possible settlements could be India keeping the state
of Arunachal Pradesh while China would keep Kashmir's Aksai Chin area that has
been under effective Chinese control for about five decades.
A senior Indian official declined to comment on the report but said India and
China were "not yet near a solution though progress has been made" in several
rounds of talks between Indian and Chinese special envoys, M.K. Narayanan and
"This (the border dispute) will of course be one of the issues on the agenda
during the Chinese president's visit," he said.