|Bad, bad China:
India cancels diplomatic visit to China
By Jo Johnson in New Delhi
Published: May 27 2007 13:25 | Last updated: May 27 2007 13:25
India has cancelled a confidence-building visit to China by over one hundred civil servants in an escalation of a diplomatic row over the two countries? 3,500km-long unresolved border.
The 107 Indian Administrative Service officers were due to leave for Beijing and Shanghai for a mid-career training programme on Saturday when they were directed to return to their home states.
The Indian move came after China granted only 106 visas to the visiting delegation, denying one to a civil servant from the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, on the grounds that he was Chinese and therefore did not need one.
Beijing claims 90,000 sq km of land in Arunachal Pradesh, which borders Bhutan and Tibet. India in turn says that China is occupying 38,000 sq km of its territory in Kashmir illegally ceded to it by Pakistan.
Analysts said China?s denial of a visa to a government official from Arunachal Pradesh was intended to reinforce its claim to the entire state and not just the disputed tract of land around Tawang it has long asserted to be part of Tibet.
It is not the first occasion on which China has sought to remind India of its continuing claim to this sparsely-populated area of the eastern Himalayas over which the two countries fought a brief and bloody war in 1962.
China?s envoy to India Sun Yuxi said the ?entire state was a part of China? last November, just a few days before Chinese president Hu Jintao?s maiden visit to India.
The Indian ministry of external affairs has repeatedly stated that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India.
Beijing has denied visas to officials from the disputed state on several occasions in recent years. Analysts said India?s reaction, in canceling a programme that had the personal support of Manmohan Singh, prime minister, was unprecedentedly firm.
During a trip to India by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao in 2005, India and China agreed on broad principles to settle their decades-long border issue. Although negotiators will meet again in July, few expect any breakthrough ahead of Mr Singh?s visit to Beijing later this year.
The border dispute has not prevented a blossoming of trade and economic ties. The countries are aiming for two-way trade worth $40bn by 2010. Bilateral trade has surged to $17.6bn in 2005/6, from $260m in 1990.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007