India pays China back in same coin

via Pioneer News Service | New Delhi - Daily Pioneer published on October 14, 2009

Tells Beijing not to take up projects in PoK

Adopting a tough posture a day after China objected to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh claiming it was a disputed territory, India asked China to refrain from undertaking projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), as it was illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947.

Taking exception to China’s involvement in several projects in PoK, the External Affairs Ministry said here the eastern neighbour should not do so taking a long-term view of India-China relations.

In fact, India on Tuesday also echoed similar sentiments when China used strong words against Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh and said such comments would not help the ongoing dialogue to resolve the four-decade long boundary dispute.

India took a strong view of China’s involvement in projects following President Hu Jintao’s remarks that China will continue to engage in projects with Pakistan inside PoK.

Jintao said this in Beijing during a meeting with visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday. Gilani reportedly invited China to set up joint projects in defence sector.

Reacting to Jintao’s remarks, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash, in a statement, said: “Pakistan has been in illegal occupation of parts of the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir since 1947. The Chinese side is fully aware of India’s position and our concerns about Chinese activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.”

He further said: “We hope that the Chinese side will take a long-term view of the India-China relations and cease such activities in areas illegally occupied by Pakistan.”

The Chinese President, during a meeting with Gilani, outlined a major project to upgrade the Karakoram highway connecting the two countries overland and Chinese help in the Neelam-Jhelum hydroelectric project in PoK. “Howsoever, the international situation may change. The people of China and Pakistan are always joined in hearts and hands,” Hu had said.

For the first time, India has taken up the issue of China and Pakistan joining hands in PoK. The verbal barrage by New Delhi was also seen as a move to lodge its protest against China blocking Asian Development Bank loan worth over $2.9 billion for an irrigation project in Arunachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, in Srinagar, Home Minister P Chidambaram said India has made it clear to China that it will only issue employment visas to its highly skilled workers and that it has decided against giving business visas. “Chinese workers can come to India only on employment visa, no more on business visas,” he told a Press conference here.

“We are going to issue employment visas only to highly skilled workers and it does not apply only to Chinese workers but to other countries as well. We are not going to issue any visas to unskilled and semi-skilled workers as we have plenty of them in India,” the Home Minister said.

Chidambaram was replying to a question on the controversy after the Chinese Mission issued visas on loose sheets rather than stamping the passports of people from Jammu & Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.

In a related development, Vice-Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal PK Barbora asked when India did not object to China’s building infrastructure in Tibet, why should China do so?

Asked about China’s objection to the Prime Minister’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, he said it was clear that China was doing so as the elections were on in the border State. Barbora said President Pratibha Patil had visited the State and she is the Supreme Commander and China did not object. “You have to read between the lines for this objection. It is for reasons best known to them that China is objecting now,” he added.

Stating that the IAF does not “fear” the Chinese military, the Air Vice-Chief said when India does not object to China’s military activities in Tibet, the latter too “should have nothing” against Indians developing their military capabilities in North-East.

Barbora said this when asked if the IAF feared adverse Chinese reaction to its upgrading six advanced landing grounds (ALGs) in Arunachal Pradesh for operating heavier transport aircraft.

He said the landing bases were built during the British days and were now in bad shape. The IAF was now upgrading them for providing round-the-year connectivity for the citizens of the State due to lack of roads.

Arunachal Pradesh was bigger than Assam in size and its citizens were totally dependent on air support, Barbora said, adding the IAF was also providing logistical support to the paramilitary forces.

The Vice-Chief clarified that the improvement of infrastructure in North-East was not country-specific and the IAF was engaged in capability building endeavour. He, however, admitted that China was upgrading its Air Force infrastructure, including air bases and landing grounds. “But we are also doing so,” Barbora said.

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