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AP MPs incensed over Chinese claims

Arunachal MPs demand a final settlement to the boder dispute during Hu Jintao's visit next week.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 14:56 IST

A Chinese claim over Arunachal Pradesh has triggered angry reactions from regional lawmakers, who demand that New Delhi should settle the issue  once and for all during President Hu Jintao's visit next week.

"New Delhi must say explicitly that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and such statements should not be made in the future," said Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh Nabam Rebia.

In a letter to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Rebia said, New Delhi should take up the matter with the Chinese president, when he reaches India on November 20 for a four-day trip.

"PM Manmohan Singh should take up this sensitive matter during the Chinese president's visit and try to get a commitment from Beijing not to rake up such issues again," added TG Rinpoche, a revered Buddhist spiritual leader and a ruling Congress legislator.

"A majority of the people residing along the border with China are Buddhists and everybody here rejects Beijing's claims," said Rinpoche.

Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi, in an interview to a private channel had said, "The whole of what you call the state of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory. We are claiming the whole of that."

India has strongly reacted to the Chinese claims, with Mukherjee on Tuesday saying that "Arunachal Pradesh was an integral part of India".

Beijing had in 2003 given up its territorial claim over Sikkim but was still holding on to its old stand that a vast stretch of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to it.

Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,030 kms unfenced border with China. The Indo-China border along Arunachal Pradesh is separated by the McMohan Line-an imaginary border now known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

India and China had fought a bitter border war in 1962, with Chinese troops advancing deep into Arunachal Pradesh and inflicting heavy casualties on Indian troops.

The border dispute with China was inherited by India from the British, who hosted a conference in 1914 with the Tibetan and Chinese governments, which  demarcated the border in what is now Arunachal Pradesh.

China has never recognised the 1914 McMahon Line and claims 90,000 square kms-nearly all of Arunachal Pradesh. India also accuses China of occupying 8,000 square kms in Kashmir.

After the 1962 war, tension flared up once again in 1986 when Indian and Chinese forces clashed in the Sumdorong Chu valley of Arunachal Pradesh. The Chinese troops, reportedly, constructed a helipad in the valley leading to fresh skirmishes along the borders during that time.

"India should not repeat the mistake once again by remaining silent on the Chinese claims, as that could encourage the neighbouring country to try and forcibly annex our land," another lawmaker from Arunachal Pradesh said.

Several pressure groups, influential tribal students' organisations and the Congress-ruled state government have voiced their anger over the recent claims by China.