India, China back to sparring over Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin

Posted on November 23, 2012

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German anti-Nazi theologian, Martin Neimöller:
First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.

India and China are back to sparring over territorial claims involving Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin. It all started with the Chinese government showing Arunachal and entire Aksai Chin as part of its territory in maps of the country on their new e-passports.

>> China maps path to new conflicts in its passports
>> China’s neighbours protest its passport map grab

Unhappy at this, the Indian embassy in Beijing is said to be issuing visas to Chinese nationals with a map of India showing Arunachal and Aksai Chin as its territories.

After the water marks in the new Chinese e-passports showed Arunachal and Aksai Chin as part of China, the Indian mission started issuing visas with Indian maps, including these places as part of its territory.

China had triggered a diplomatic row by issuing stapled visas to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, terming it as a “disputed territory” and denied visas to those hailing from Arunachal Pradesh.

Peeved over this action, India lodged a strong protest with China which subsequently reverted to issuing normal visas to residents of J-K but without officially admitting that they were doing so.

China’s claim to Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,030-km unfenced border with it, is not new.

In 1962, China and India fought a brief war over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, but in 1993 and 1996 the two countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control to maintain peace and tranquility.

Significantly, these developments occur even as a high- level team of Chinese diplomats, for the first time, visited Sikkim in connection with consular issues, which was seen as reconfirmation of Beijing’s stance of accepting the state as part of India.

The development comes to light days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Cambodia where the two leaders discussed ways to move forward on the vexed boundary issue.

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon is expected to visit Beijing soon for the next round of boundary talks at the level of Special Representatives with his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo.

Hindustan Times

Beijing’s S. China Sea Rivals Protest Passport Map

China has enraged several neighbors with a few dashes on a map, printed in its newly revised passports, that show it staking its claim on the entire South China Sea and even Taiwan.

Inside the new passports, an outline of China printed in the upper left corner includes Taiwan and the sea, hemmed in by the dashes. The change highlights China’s longstanding claim on the South China Sea in its entirety, though parts of the waters also are claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

A Chinese man holds up a Chinese passport with details on a page that shows dashes which include the South China Sea as part of the Chinese territory outside a passport office in Beijing, China, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. The Philippines has protested China’s depiction of its claims over the entire South China Sea in an image of a map printed on newly issued Chinese e-passports. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

China’s official maps have long included Taiwan and the South China Sea as Chinese territory, but the act of including those in its passports could be seen as a provocation since it would require other nations to tacitly endorse those claims by affixing their official seals to the documents.

Ruling party and opposition lawmakers alike condemned the map in Taiwan, a self-governed island that split from China after a civil war in 1949. They said it could harm the warming ties the historic rivals have enjoyed since Ma Ying-jeou became president 4 1/2 years ago.

“This is total ignorance of reality and only provokes disputes,” said Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the Cabinet-level body responsible for ties with Beijing. The council said the government cannot accept the map.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters in Manila that he sent a note to the Chinese Embassy that his country “strongly protests” the image. He said China’s claims include an area that is “clearly part of the Philippines’ territory and maritime domain.”

The Vietnamese government said it had also sent a diplomatic note to the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi, demanding that Beijing remove the “erroneous content” printed in the passport.

In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said the new passport was issued based on international standards. China began issuing new versions of its passports to include electronic chips on May 15, though criticism cropped up only this week.

“The outline map of China on the passport is not directed against any particular country,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Thursday.

It’s unclear whether other South China Sea neighbors will respond in any way beyond protesting to Beijing. China, in a territorial dispute with India, once stapled visas into passports to avoid stamping them. Taiwan does not recognize China’s passports in any case; Chinese visitors to the island have a special travel document.

China maintains it has ancient claims to all of the South China Sea, despite much of it being within the exclusive economic zones of Southeast Asian neighbors. The islands and waters are potentially rich in oil and gas.

There are concerns that the disputes could escalate into violence. China and the Philippines had a tense maritime standoff at a shoal west of the main Philippine island of Luzon early this year.

The United States, which has said it takes no sides in the territorial spats but that it considers ensuring safe maritime traffic in the waters to be in its national interest, has backed a call for a “code of conduct” to prevent clashes in the disputed territories. But it remains unclear if and when China will sit down with rival claimants to draft such a legally binding nonaggression pact.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam are scheduled to meet Dec. 12 to discuss claims in the South China Sea and the role of China.

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Associated Press

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