India counters China with tit-for-tat move in map row

NEW DELHI — India is stamping its map on visas given to Chinese visitors, an Indian official said on Saturday, after China began issuing passports showing disputed territories as its own.

By (Agencies)

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Published: Sun 25 Nov 2012, 11:33 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 12:51 PM

“We have started issuing visas with India’s map as we know it,” said a foreign ministry official, who did not wish to be named, declining to comment further.

India’s tit-for-tat action comes after China began issuing new biometric passports showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai China — regions that New Delhi claims — as part of Chinese territory.

And the response comes amid already strained ties between the two Asian giants.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid says the Chinese passport map showing India’s Arunachal Pradesh state and the Himalayan region of Aksai Chin as part of China is “unacceptable.”

Beijing has also included disputed islands in the South China Sea in the map outline on the new passports, angering both the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as areas including two of Taiwan’s most famous scenic spots.

Early this week, the Philippines foreign secretary wrote a protest note to the Chinese embassy and the Vietnam government said it has also lodged its objections with Beijing. India’s The Hindu newspaper said the Indian government had decided not to take up the issue formally with China. “It feels it will be better to speak through actions than words,” the newspaper quoted an unidentified government official as saying.

Beijing has attempted to downplay the diplomatic fallout from the recently introduced passports, with a foreign ministry spokeswoman saying the maps were “not made to target any specific country”. India says China controls 41,440 square kilometres of its territory in Aksai Chin in Kashmir, while Beijing claims that the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,050-kilometre border with the Chinese-run region of Tibet, is rightfully Chinese territory.

India and China fought a brief border war in 1962, and large stretches of the India-China border are still undemarcated.

The territorial disputes remain unresolved despite 15 rounds of talks, but relations have improved in recent years as China and India’s trade has grown exponentially to reach more than $75 billion last year.

However, the trade remains heavily skewed in favour of China, which is now India’s biggest trading partner. China’s build-up of military infrastructure along the frontier has become a major source of concern for India, which increasingly sees Beijing as a longer-term threat to its security than traditional rival Pakistan. India is also wary of Chinese activity in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.



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