China on Thursday condemned India’s move to convert the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, Global Times reported. China claimed that India’s move, which officially came into effect on Thursday, challenges its sovereignty and is “illegal and invalid”.

India had abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5. On the same day, it passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill in Parliament, converting the state into two Union Territories from October 31. China, along with Pakistan, had earlier opposed India’s move to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press conference that “India’s unilateral move challenges China’s sovereignty by revising India’s domestic law and administrative division”, which is “illegal and invalid”. It will not change China’s control of the region, he added.

India and China both claim sovereignty over the disputed Aksai Chin region, which Beijing controls.

Geng on Thursday urged the Indian government to respect China’s integrity and sovereignty, and abide by related agreements signed between the two countries. He also said that India should maintain peace and tranquility on the disputed border and create conditions favourable for settling the boundary question through dialogue.

“China’s stance on the Kashmir issue is clear and consistent: it is a dispute left over from colonial history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements,” Geng added.

India asks China not to interfere in its internal matters

In response, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral part of India, and New Delhi does not expect other countries, including China, to comment on its internal matters, ANI reported. “China is well aware of India’s consistent and clear position on this issue,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. “The matter of reorganisation of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh is entirely an internal affair of India.”

Kumar said China should respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He said that China continues to occupy a large tract of area in the two newly-formed Union Territories. “It has illegally acquired Indian territories from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir under the so-called China-Pakistan boundary agreement of 1963,” he added.

Earlier on Thursday, Girish Chandra Murmu, a former bureaucrat from Gujarat, took oath as the first lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Another former civil servant, Radha Krishna Mathur, was sworn in as the lieutenant governor of Ladakh. While Jammu and Kashmir is now a Union territory with a legislature, Ladakh will be ruled directly from New Delhi.

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