‘Unlawful, void, violates our territory’: China on new UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh
The state of Jammu and Kashmir ceased to be a state and became two UTs – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh – Wednesday midnight; nearly three months after the Indian Parliament revoked Article 370.Updated: Oct 31, 2019 16:49 IST
China on Thursday lashed out at India for changing the status of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, calling the reorganisation of the former state to two separate union territories (UT) as “unlawful and void”.
Beijing said the move violated Chinese sovereignty but will also not change the situation on the ground as part of the area in the former state remains under Chinese control.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir ceased to be a state and became two UTs – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh – Wednesday midnight; nearly three months after the Indian Parliament revoked the special status enjoyed by the former state under Article 370 of the Constitution.
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The Chinese foreign ministry was asked to respond to the law coming into effect at the regular ministry briefing on Thursday.
The response was sharp.
“The Indian government officially announced the establishment of so-called Jammu and Kashmir union territory and Ladakh union territory which included some of China’s territory into its administrative jurisdiction,” foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang said.
“China deplores and firmly opposes that (move). India unilaterally changes its domestic laws and administrative divisions challenging China’s sovereignty. This is unlawful and void and this is not effective in any way and will not change the fact that the area is under Chinese actual control,” Geng added.
“China urges the Indian side to earnestly respect Chinese territorial sovereignty, abide by our treaties and uphold peace and tranquility in the border areas and create favourable conditions for the proper settlement of boundary question,” he said.
Geng was referring to the territory of Aksai Chin, which China controls but New Delhi claims as part of the new UT of Ladakh.
China had similarly reacted on August 6, a day after New Delhi had announced the decision to revoke Article 370, calling the move “unacceptable”.
India had then rejected Beijing’s criticism, saying the proposal to form new UTs including that of Ladakh was an “internal matter”.
New Delhi had also pointed out the two sides had agreed to maintain peace along their disputed border until a mutually acceptable solution is found to the issue.
External affairs minister, S Jaishankar, had visited Beijing soon after and explained India’s position, saying that the change in the administrative status of the region did not impact the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto border with China.
On Thursday, Geng also brought up Kashmir, saying it is a “…dispute left from history and it should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN charter, the relevant UNSC resolutions and other bilateral treaties and relevant side should resolve dispute through dialogue and consultations and uphold regional peace and stability.”
“China and Pak are all-weather strategic partners and our cooperation is very close”.
On a separate question about “trust deficit” between India and China compared to close ties between China and Pakistan, Geng said New Delhi and Beijing were working at various levels for “greater” mutual understanding and trust.
Geng also made the distinction between India and Pakistan clear: “China and Pak are all-weather strategic partners and our cooperation is very close”.
Referring to the second informal summit between PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in Chennai earlier this month, he said: “I believe both sides have released statements and press releases and both sides exchanged views on the global, regional, long term and strategy issues in a friendly atmosphere and agreed to develop closer partnerships”.
“They also discussed cooperation in various areas in the next stage. I believe this includes cooperation in people-to-people exchanges. Cooperation between China and India grew fast in the past years. And we have mechanisms for people-to-people exchange. In many areas we have fruitful outcomes,” Geng added.
“I believe this contributes to our mutual understanding and trust and we will work with the Indian side under the people-to-people exchange mechanisms to work for greater mutual understanding and trust between our peoples,” Geng said.
To another question, Geng said China will support Pakistan in its dealings with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body formed to fight money laundering and terror financing.
“It’s (the FATF’s) aim is not to sanction or punish any country. Not long ago the plenary session of the FATF decided to keep the grading of Pak. This shows that the FATF members recognise Pak’s progress in improving its anti-terrorist financing system and they are an encouragement for Pak,” Geng said.
“This is also in accordance with the purposes and goals of FATF. China supports Pak improving its domestic anti-terrorist financing system and we will work with all parties of FATF to provide constructive support and assistance to Pakistan,” he said.
The spokesperson added that the FATF is an important platform for anti-money laundering and fighting terrorist financing activities.
“The aim of FATF is to better help all countries fight the illegal activities of money laundering and terrorist financing or the abuse of the international financial system.”