China on Thursday dismissed reports that said it had built a new village in Arunachal Pradesh, saying the construction activity was normal as it was undertaken within its “own territory”, reported PTI.
“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,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a media briefing. “We have never recognised the so-called Arunachal Pradesh illegally established on the Chinese territory. China’s normal construction on its own territory is entirely a matter of sovereignty.”
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control, which divides the areas of physical control rather than territorial claims. China has never recognised the de facto border, and currently claims 90,000 square kilometres of territory – nearly all of which constitutes Arunachal Pradesh. Beijing shows it as Southern Tibet in its map.
NDTV on Monday reported that China had constructed a new village of 101 homes, approximately 4.5 kilometres within the Indian territory, in Arunachal Pradesh. In its report, the news channel cited satellite images accessed by it. The village, located on the banks of the River Tsari Chu, in the Upper Subansiri district of the state could not be seen in satellite images of the same area taken in August 2019, suggesting that the construction was done at some point since then.
India did not deny the presence of the village, but said it was keeping a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on the country’s security, and was taking necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Ministry of External Affairs said that New Delhi has stepped up the construction of border infrastructure, including roads and bridges for the improvement of livelihood of its citizens.
On Tuesday, Chinese state media said New Delhi was trying to hype news about the village.
The Indian media reports were “a blatant attempt to stir up troubles on the China-India border,” Zhang Yongpan, a research fellow of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told The Global Times.
Qian Fen of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University said the area “has never been recognised by the Chinese government”. “China and India haven’t demarcated the border line of this area yet,” he added. “So they cannot accuse China of building a village on the Indian side.”
The recent tensions around Arunachal Pradesh come at a time when relations between India and China have hit a multi-decade low since clashes in eastern Ladakh border in June that killed 20 Indian soldiers. China is also believed to have suffered casualties, but has not given any details. Both India and China have accused each other of crossing into rival territory and of firing shots for the first time in 45 years.