NEW DELHI—China is defending the construction of a village on land in India’s state of Arunachal Pradesh, saying that the Beijing regime has “never recognized” the border area as a part of India.
The Chinese village of 101 houses sits along the Tsari Chu river in the border state, according to the U.S.-based imaging company Planet Labs. Construction was completed 2.5 miles into Indian territory last year, as India and China engaged in a tense military standoff in the far north, Himalayan region of Ladakh.
The construction is a matter of grave concern for India, New Delhi Television (NDTV) reported on Jan. 18. The Indian External Affairs Ministry said in a statement the same day that the Indian government is aware of the Chinese “ramping” up infrastructure development in the region and is taking necessary measures.
“We have seen recent reports on China undertaking construction work along with the border areas with India. China has undertaken such infrastructure construction activity in the past several years,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The ministry said it’s taking all necessary measures to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India and is stepping up infrastructure development on the Indian side.
Meanwhile, the Chinese External Affairs ministry noted the construction in a statement on Jan. 21 but said it doesn’t recognize Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India.
“China’s position on the east sector of the China-India boundary, or Zangnan region (the southern part of China’s Tibet), is consistent and clear. We have never recognized the so-called Arunachal Pradesh illegally established on the Chinese territory,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing.
While there’s a history of clashes between the Indian army and China’s People’s Liberation Army in the Tsari Chu river valley has since 1959, there are areas that are a part of the official map of India, yet are under Chinese control.
Indian retired Maj. Gen. G.G. Diwedi, who has served in the region, told The Epoch Times over the phone that because control of the area is in dispute, international norms prohibit construction there. He said India and China have various agreements to regulate conduct with respect to the disputed border.
“The basic issue is that in the disputed territory, we don’t make any permanent construction. While we may patrol because our perception [of the border] is different, we don’t do any construction work,” he said.
Another Indian military veteran, retired Lt. Gen. Kamal Davar, who has also served in the region during his career and who founded India’s Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Epoch Times that the Chinese don’t do anything randomly and everything for them is a long, drawn-out strategy.
“As late as 2005, the Chinese ambassador said the whole of Arunachal belongs to China. How do you say that? Are you ruling the world? Or are you still suffering from that irrational, Middle Kingdom syndrome? Chinese have the thing that they own the world,” Davar said.
China’s statements reflect their “deceit and disregard” for humanitarian and international norms, he says.
The report of the construction of the 101 houses follows other recent reports of China settling Han Chinese and Tibetan members of the Chinese Communist Party along the border with India to further its expansionist agenda, according to NDTV.
”Like it used fishermen in the South China Sea, China uses civilian resources—herders and grazers—as the tip of the spear to intrude into Indian-patrolled Himalayan areas,” Dr. Brahma Chellaney, a geopolitical analyst and a noted syndicated writer, told NDTV.
Davar said: “The Chinese constantly come out with innovative methods in the pursuit of their strategic missions by means fair and foul.
“Their modus operandi embraces clandestine measures employing seemingly innocent Tibetan and nomads in areas close to the Indian border, who are then utilized to wander across the LAC (Line of Actual Control) to obtain information.”
Historically Complex Border
Ninong Ering, a former federal minister of the Indian government and a current lawmaker in the legislative assembly of Arunachal Pradesh, told The Epoch Times by telephone that his state has always been a target of the Chinese because they consider it a part of south Tibet.
“The Chinese are really [expletive] off, they are really angry with us because we gave a kind of solace to his holiness the Dalai Lama when he had come to Tawang. And that’s the reason why they are always against us,” said Ering, who was also a member of the lower house of the Indian parliament for 10 years.
Arunachal Pradesh is home to the historic Tawang Monastery, the largest Buddhist monastery in India and the second-largest after the Potala Palace in Lhasa, with which it was connected. It belongs to the Gelug school of Vajrayana Buddhism and when the Dalai Lama escaped to India in March 1959, he settled at the Tawang monastery for a month before meeting with the Indian government.
Arunachal Pradesh, which has a 684-mile-long boundary with China, has set up about 20 to 25 military posts along this border. Ering said that the Chinese have already occupied some Indian land in the past few decades and it’s important to have a check on their ongoing activity, to halt further aggression and intrusions.
“There has to be a check. Now, there’s no check. They are still engrossed in incursions and they always do this because we don’t have any border on the border. It’s completely jungle in Arunachal Pradesh and there are no roads,” he said.
The Chinese have already built a network of roads on the other side of the border, Ering said.
He gave the example of Arunachal Pradesh’s remotest town, Anini, which is 20 miles away from the nearest Indian military post and another 62 miles (100 kilometers) to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), is which is unmanned.
“Now, when there is a gap of 100 kilometers, the Chinese have already constructed roads, because you can see through the Google [maps] they went right into Dibang valley. That is going to be a very serious threat for all of us until and unless we build infrastructure, until and unless we build roads,” Ering said.
“So if the Indian government doesn’t build roads, then I think we may lose Arunachal,” said Ering.
He expressed hope that newly elected U.S. President Joe Biden will support India.
“Let us hope that the United States president will also take concern about what China is doing to India,” he said.
Protests Against New Village
After reports emerged about the new Chinese village, anti-China protests broke out in the Upper Subansiri district in Arunachal Pradesh, where the houses were built. People carried placards and banners and shouted pro-India and anti-China slogans, NDTV reported. The banners read “long live India” and “go back China,” according to the images and videos available in the media.
Ering said the people of the state are very patriotic, and the region always has been under the “Indian format.”
“People are completely patriotic, the national feeling is there. Bharat Mata ki Jai (Long Live Mother India) and JaiHind (Victory to India) are always there in our mouths. So we are completely nationalistic,” said Ering. He says he’s written a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the Chinese road, in the unmanned territory between the Debang valley and the LAC.
Meanwhile, the Chinese state-run Global Times called India’s response “hype by Indian media” and cited a Chinese expert who said the Indian media is seeking to create anti-China sentiment in the country.
“China and India haven’t demarcated the borderline of this area yet. So they cannot accuse China of building a village on the Indian side,” Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the media outlet.