China Condemns US Interference in India Border Dispute

China has criticized the United States for interfering in its border disagreement with India, following Washington’s assertion that it recognizes the contested Arunachal Pradesh as a part of Indian territory.

“China strongly deplores and firmly opposes this,” remarked Lin Jian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, during a press conference in Beijing on Thursday. “The China-India boundary question is a matter between the two countries and has nothing to do with the US side.”

This reaction comes in response to the U.S. dismissing China’s “unilateral attempts” to push forward its territorial claims and intervening in a dispute between New Delhi and Beijing after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh.

This development adds to the escalating tensions between neighboring India and China, which have a shared border spanning 3,500 kilometers. China, known as Zangnan, asserts that Arunachal Pradesh is part of southern Tibet, a claim India vehemently rejects, maintaining that Arunachal Pradesh has always been an integral part of its territory.

The U.S. State Department intervened on Wednesday, stating, “The United States recognizes Arunachal Pradesh as Indian territory and we strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to advance territorial claims by incursions or encroachments, military or civilian, across the Line of Actual Control,” according to spokesperson Vedant Patel.

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) demarcates India-controlled territory from that controlled by China. China reiterated its claims over Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday, asserting, “Zangnan has always been China’s territory, a basic fact that is undeniable.”

“It is known to all that the US has consistently spared no efforts to provoke and take advantage of other countries’ conflicts to serve its selfish geopolitical interests,” Lin added.

Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center, highlighted the U.S.’s consistent efforts to align itself with India in its competition with China, indicating that U.S. support for India in this border dispute reflects this alignment.

Kugelman noted that while the U.S. typically refrains from commenting on certain Indian border disputes, such as the one with Pakistan over Kashmir, in this case, it is signaling its solidarity with New Delhi, akin to its efforts, including intelligence-sharing, to assist India in deterring Chinese aggressions on its northern border.

Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the “Sela Tunnel,” the world’s longest bi-lane tunnel situated at an altitude above 13,000 feet in Arunachal Pradesh, eliciting strong reactions from Chinese officials.

Border tensions between India and China have intensified in recent years, with a major escalation in 2020 resulting in a clash that claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese troops. Last year, China renamed 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh, a move vehemently opposed by India.

Senior Colonel Zhang Xiaogang, deputy director-general of the Information Office of China’s Ministry of National Defense, stated days after the road tunnel inauguration that “China never recognizes and firmly opposes India’s illegal establishment of the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh.'”

China’s defense ministry reiterated its claim over the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh last week. In response, India’s foreign ministry reiterated that Arunachal Pradesh “was, is, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India.”

Regarding the U.S. siding with India, Harsh V. Pant, vice president for studies and foreign policy at Observer Research Foundation, noted the significant progress in India-U.S. relations. He remarked, “It shows how far India-U.S. relations have come. Even when it comes to the matter, which has been very sensitive, such as the India-China border dispute, the U.S. today is openly standing with India.

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