BEIJING/NEW DELHI — China on Tuesday objected to the formation of Ladakh as Union Territory by India, saying it undermined its territorial sovereignty, evoking a sharp reaction from New Delhi, which asked Beijing to refrain from commenting on its “internal affairs”.
With the government bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China has always opposed to India’s inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction.
Reacting strongly, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said,“the J-K Reorganisation Bill 2019, introduced by the government in Parliament on 5 August, which proposes the formation of a new ‘Union Territory of Ladakh’ is an internal matter concerning the territory of India. India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise.”
While asserting that “recently India has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law,” Hua said such practice was “unacceptable and will not come into force.”
She also said, “we urge India to exercise prudence in words and deeds concerning the boundary question, strictly abide by relevant agreements concluded between the two sides and avoid taking any move that may further complicate the boundary question.”
On his part, Kumar said,“so far as the India-China boundary question is concerned, the two sides have agreed to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question on the basis of the ‘Political Parameters and Guiding Principles’ for the settlement of India-China boundary question.”
Pending such a settlement, both sides have agreed to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas on the basis of the relevant agreements, he added.
India and China have 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) between them. The two countries have held 21 rounds of Special Representatives talks so far to resolve the boundary dispute.
Meanwhile, there were reports that China has not granted visas to a group of Indians planning to undertake Kailash Mansarovar yatra later this week. However, there was no official confirmation either from Indian or Chinese side.
In a separate response on exchange of fire along the India-Pak Line of Control and India revoking Article 370 to withdraw special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Hua asked India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid actions that “unilaterally” change the status quo and exacerbate tensions between them.
Expressing “serious concern” over the situation in Kashmir, she said China’s position on it was “clear and consistent”.
“This issue is a legacy of history between India and Pakistan, which is also the consensus of the international community.The parties concerned should exercise restraint and act with caution, especially to avoid actions that unilaterally change the status quo and exacerbate the tension,” she said.
Hua also said,“the relevant sides need to exercise restraint and act prudently. In particular, they should refrain from taking actions that will unilaterally change the status quo and escalate tension. We call on both India and Pakistan to peacefully resolve the relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard peace and stability in the region.”
This is the second statement issued by China on the Kashmir issue in recent weeks.
On July 26, China said India and Pakistan should peacefully settle the Kashmir issue and other disputes through dialogue and expressed its support to the international community, including the US, in playing a “constructive role” to improve ties between the two countries.
The statement was issued in response to US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue during his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington.
India rejected Trump’s offer, saying that Kashmir is a bilateral issue.