China reacts to India-Japan cooperation in northeast, says no room for ‘third party’
The India-Japan joint statement had referred to cooperation between the two sides to develop India’s northeastern states as a “concrete symbol of developing synergies”.
China on Friday warned third parties against meddling in its boundary dispute with India, specifically mentioning the Arunachal Pradesh sector in an apparent response to Indo-Japanese plans to invest in infrastructure projects in the northeastern states.
A joint statement issued on Thursday following talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe announced the setting up of the Act East Forum and referred to plans to take up infrastructure projects such as road connectivity and electricity in India’s northeastern states.
Though the joint statement did not specifically refer to Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which are claimed by Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying spoke about the disputed border in the “eastern section” when she was asked about the Act East Forum at a news briefing.
“You must be very clear that boundary of the India-China border area has not been totally delimited and we have disputes in the eastern section of the boundary. We are now trying to seek a solution through negotiation that is acceptable to both sides,” Hua said.
“Under such circumstances, we hope India and various parties should respect such aspects and any third party should not be involved in our efforts to solve disputes,” she added.
The term “eastern section” is used by Beijing to refer to the border along Arunachal Pradesh.
The India-Japan joint statement had referred to cooperation between the two sides to develop the northeastern states as a “concrete symbol of developing synergies” between India’s Act East policy and Japan’s Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy.
There are also reports that the two sides are working on an India-Japan Coordination Forum for Development of North East to focus on strategic projects such as connectivity and road network development.
The joint statement also said India and Japan are committed to freedom of navigation and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the Indo-Pacific region, though it did not include a reference to the dispute in the South China Sea.
Responding to the other questions, spokesperson Hua said China had closely tracked the Japanese prime minister’s high-profile visit to India. “To be frank, we are closely following the Japanese PM’s visit to India,” she said.
“The (joint) statement mentioned about resolving disputes through negotiation and dialogue. We know that resolving disputes by directly concerned parties to uphold freedom of navigation and over-flight is China’s position. We also hope various parties can uphold the rights to freedom of navigation and over-flight by countries in various waters,” she said.
Hua also brought up China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). “You mentioned that there are may be some innuendos on the Belt and Road Initiative.
In terms of improvement on our connectivity, we always do it...We should uphold the wide consultation, joint contribution and benefits to strengthen infrastructure and connectivity in this region,” she added.
“India and Japan are both important countries in Asia. We hope normal development of relations can be conducive to regional stability and development and play a constructive role in this process,” she said.