India let loose a barrage of justification and counter criticism upon China on Wednesday, responding aggressively both to President Hu Jintao’s statement that China would continue to support projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), as well as to its earlier objections to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visiting Arunachal Pradesh.
“Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and the just-concluded assembly election has proved that it was held under the Indian Constitution,” said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Kolkata.
“We have never said anything about China developing infrastructure and airbases in Tibet,” said Indian Air Force Vice-Chief Air Marshal P K Barbara in New Delhi. “So they should also not tell us.”
For good measure, Home Minister P Chidambaram, visiting Srinagar, chose to reiterate: “Chinese workers can come to India only on employment visa, no more on business visas."
In an official statement, the Ministry of External Affairs declared that China was “fully aware of India’s position, and our concerns about Chinese activities in PoK.” It urged China to take ‘a long term view’ of India-China relations and refrain from supporting development in areas ‘illegally occupied’ by Pakistan.
President Hu had made a commitment to Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani during the latter’s visit to Beijing that China would help upgrade the Karakoram highway that connects Pakistan and China, and support the Neelam-Jhelum hydroelectric project in PoK.
India has always been wary of China and Pakistan joining forces in PoK. A defence ministry report recently sounded the alarm over the “direct military implications” for India if this occurred.
Wary of Beijing’s strategic designs, the report alerted against the possibility of China “enhancing connectivity” with Pakistan through disputed territories in Jammu and Kashmir, including PoK.
The 1962 India-China war ended with China seizing some 38,000 sq km of Indian territory in Aksai Chin in the eastern-most fringes of J&K. Pakistan went on to unilaterally cede another 5,120 km of territory in northern Kashmir to China under a 1963 pact.
India-China relations have worsened in recent weeks. While China expressed unhappiness over Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, India had recently lodged a protest with Beijing over the Chinese embassy issuing stapled visas to residents of Kashmir instead of stamping it on their passports.