Hours after Beijing called the official bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh as “unlawful” and “void”, India Thursday responded sharply and said it doesn’t expect China to comment on its internal matter, just as Delhi refrains from commenting on internal issues of other countries.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said: “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. China deplores and firmly opposes that. India unilaterally changes its domestic laws and administrative divisions challenging China’s sovereignty.”
Geng said: “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.”
Noting the Chinese statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “China is well aware of India’s consistent and clear position on this issue. The matter of reorganization of the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir into the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh is entirely an internal affair of India. We do not expect other countries, including China, to comment on the matters which are internal to India, just as India refrains from commenting on internal issues of other countries.”
Delhi, for instance, has refrained from commenting on the Hong Kong protests. At the recent two-day informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said the matter was not raised or discussed. However, he had said that Xi had talked about Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing.
Late Thursday, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement rejecting India’s move on J&K and saying that these changes are “ illegal and void” as per UNSC resolutions, and “do not prejudice the right to self-determination of the people…”
China, meanwhile, reiterated its “consistent and clear” position on the Kashmir issue. “…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,” Geng said.
To a question on Pakistani media reports noting a trust deficit between China and India in light of Xi Jinping’s visit to Chennai, Geng said: “Regarding President Xi and Prime Minister Modi’s meeting in Chennai, 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.”
The MEA spokesperson said that the “Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral part of India. We expect other countries to respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The spokesperson said China continues to be in “occupation of a large tract of area in the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh”. It has also “illegally acquired” Indian territories from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) under the so-called China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963, he said.
This is the first time that the MEA has used the nomenclature Union Territories, instead of State, as the Act came into force Thursday.
The spokesperson said that India has consistently conveyed its concerns to both China and Pakistan on the projects in so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which is in the territory that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947.
In so far as the boundary question is concerned, the spokesperson said that India and China have agreed to seek a “fair, reasonable and mutually accepted solution” to the issue through peaceful consultations on the basis of the parameters and principles agreed in 2005.
“This was reiterated also in the 2nd India-China Informal Summit between Prime Minister and President Xi in Chennai earlier this month. In the interim, the two sides have also agreed to maintain peace and tranquility in the border area,” the MEA spokesperson said.