The ‘warning’ held out by China to the US ambassador to India, Richard Verma, for visiting Arunachal Pradesh which Beijing claims as southern Tibet, is highly objectionable. In words that were unusually intemperate a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said such US ‘interference’ in the Sino-Indian border dispute will make it “more complicated” and “disturb hard-won peace” at the border. This was evidently a veiled threat to India too that border peace could be jolted if the US does not mend its ways. A few months ago, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to the region had been opposed by the Chinese in similar terms. That New Delhi has promptly slammed China for its intransigence in criticising the US envoy’s visit is as it should be. At a time when Sino-Indian ties seem on the mend, such provocations cannot be tolerated. Arunachal is a sovereign territory of India and the Chinese have no business to object to anybody visiting that Indian state. Talks between India and China are ongoing but we cannot allow them to ride roughshod over us. In the case in question, it was the Arunachal chief minister, Pema Khandu, who had extended the invitation to Mr Verma for a cultural festival and the Chinese government has done a great disservice to him and to India by objecting to his visit. China claims more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) of territory disputed by India in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. Much of that forms the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Mr. Verma posted photos on his Twitter account on October 21 of his recent trip to Arunachal, thanking Indian officials for their “warm hospitality” and calling the region a “magical place.” In August, China had been angered by India’s plans to place advanced cruise missiles there. But India must not kowtow to Chinese whims. The more we do so, the more would the Chinese be emboldened to challenge India, in ways direct and indirect. The 1962 Chinese aggression had caught India napping but thereafter India is no longer weak and has prepared itself for any eventuality.
Recently, China gave evidence of its antipathy towards India by stonewalling Indian attempts to get Pakistan’s cross-border terror mentioned in the concluding statement of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, Indian, China, South Africa) summit in Goa. The Chinese have been unusually cosy with our arch-enemy Pakistan and have made no bones about it. It is therefore not right for India to bend over backwards to please China. The balance of Sino-Indian trade is also heavily loaded in China’s favour. The China-Pak economic corridor is an ambitious project for both our neighbours and they must know that India and the US can not only oppose the project which passes through Pak-occupied Kashmir which is in effect India’s territory but India can also frustrate Chinese designs by lending a discreet helping hand to the Baluchs who are angry with Pakistan for its reign of terror and are opposed to the project. India’s good conduct in relations with China must not be taken for granted. We are as conscious of our national interest as the Chinese are of theirs.