China has no locus standi to comment on India's internal matters, New Delhi asserted today, reacting to Beijing's remarks after the opening of 44 bridges in border areas on Monday.
"The Union Territories of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir have been, are and will remain an integral part of India," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
"Our position on Arunachal Pradesh has also been made clear several times. Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India. This fact has also been clearly conveyed to the Chinese side on several occasions, including at the highest level," he added.
China, on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh opening a series of new bridges near the border on Monday, had said it "does not recognize the Ladakh Union Territory illegally set up by India and Arunachal Pradesh". Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, had called border infrastructure development "the root cause for tension between the two sides" and said neither country should take action that might escalate tensions.
"Based on consensus, neither should take actions along the border that might escalate the situation that is to avoid undermining the efforts by the two sides to ease the situation. We urge the Indian side to earnestly implement our consensus and refrain from actions that might escalate the situation and take concrete measures to safeguard peace and tranquility along the border," Zhao had said.
On Beijing criticizing construction in border areas as the root cause of tension, the foreign ministry spokesperson said: "The government has been focused on creating the infrastructure in the country to improve the livelihood and economic welfare of its people. The government gives special attention to improving infrastructure in border areas for economic development and to meet India's strategic and security requirements."
New Delhi said it hoped "countries will not comment on India's internal matters, as much as they expect the same of others". As for restoring peace and tranquility in border areas, the foreign ministry spokesperson said, it was best achieved by "scrupulously following all agreements in their entirety".
The new bridges, including eight in Ladakh and eight in Arunachal Pradesh, will facilitate faster movement of troops and weapons closer to the border, say officials.
Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a face-off in eastern Ladakh since May and tension peaked in June when 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the line of duty in a clash with the Chinese at Galwan Valley. Last month, shots were fired in the air more than once as the two armies came face to face at Pangong Tso.