A new territorial row has broken out between India and China. Sources in government have told NDTV that Beijing is issuing passports to its citizens which show a map that includes Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin (in Ladakh) as part of China.
India is retaliating by stamping these passports with its own version of the map, marking out its own territorial boundaries. New Delhi has not yet taken this up at an official and diplomatic level with China, the sources said.
The Chinese map also shows South China Sea within its own territory. That too has been a sore point between Delhi and Beijing.
Speaking to NDTV, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said, "We have issues with China, we have a history and everyone knows that. We, as a nation, have opted for an enlightened view of relation as a beneficial relation with China. Both countries have come to this conclusion. We ensure our flags of disagreement are put up immediately when something happens."
This new episode in a series of boundary disputes between the two countries comes week before India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon visits China for border talks. The disputes have often interrupted India-China relations, though most of them are considered mere "pinpricks".
China had earlier refused to give visas to visitors from Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, claiming that they were Chinese areas. It has also started giving separate visas to visitors from the state of Jammu and Kashmir, claiming that it was not part of India.
The inclusion of South China Sea has already been objected to by Philippines and Vietnam, who too have claims over it. For India too, this will be an irritant, since it has signed agreements with the government of Vietnam to explore under-sea oil and gas deposits. China has been blocking this by staking territorial claim over the entire sea.
(With Inputs Agencies)