Arunachal leaders want PM to take up China's 'standard map' at Summit

Bumla: Special Border Personnel Meeting between India and China underway at Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh to celebrate 92nd Anniversary of People’s Liberation Army Foundation Day on Aug 1, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

Bumla: Special Border Personnel Meeting between India and China underway at Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh to celebrate 92nd Anniversary of People’s Liberation Army Foundation Day on Aug 1, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

Itanagar, September 3 (IANS) Cutting across political lines as on earlier occasions, leaders in Arunachal Pradesh reacted to the 2023 “Standard Map” of China that lays claim to India’s territory of Arunachal Pradesh—the state that shares a 1,129-km border with China.

After China’s release of a contentious “standard map” that incorporated Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, Congress MLA and former Union Minister Ninong Ering has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the matter of China’s assertiveness in the upcoming G20 Summit scheduled in Delhi on September 9-10.

Several Arunachal Ministers and BJP legislators unofficially supporting the Congress leader want the Prime Minister to raise the new map issue with Chinese leaders at the Summit.

Though Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu did not make any direct comments this time but reposted the reaction on X by Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs.

Bagchi had said: "We have today lodged a strong protest through diplomatic channels with the Chinese side on the so called 2023 "standard map" of China that lays claim to India's territory. We reject these claims as they have no basis. Such steps by the Chinese side only complicate the resolution of the boundary question."

In his letter to the Prime Minister last week, Congress legislator Ninong Ering said that the deliberate action taken by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has invoked deep resentment among the people of Arunachal Pradesh.

Asserting that he has full faith in the wisdom and the might of the Indian Army in defending the Line of Control and Line of Actual Control, Ering, who is elected to the state assembly from Pasighat West seat, said that this release of the map was an attack on India’s sovereignty and integrity.

"It is common knowledge that the PRC has earlier tried to assert its claim over Arunachal Pradesh by renaming 11 locations in April 2023, 15 locations in 2021 and 6 places in 2017,” Ering said.

He said that the PRC Standard Map is a culmination of China’s nefarious plans and a matter of importance since Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and has scarred memories of the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

In his letter, the former Central Minister also mentioned the Galwan Valley clash between the troops of India and China.

“As you know, India is engaged in combat with an aggressive PRC along the Indo-Tibetan border in the Himalayas and 20 Indian Army personnel gave their lives while defending India’s frontiers against the PLA in Galwan Valley in 2020,” the letter to PM said.

"Referring to the India-China standoff in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh in December 2022, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had stated that the government is committed to ensuring that not a single inch of India’s soil is compromised,” the Congress MLA wrote.

On August 28 China released the 2023 edition of its "standard map" showing Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as South Tibet and Aksai Chin occupied by it in the 1962 war as part of its territory.

Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea are also included within Chinese territory in the new map.

India has rolled out various ambitious infrastructure projects and schemes along the China border, specially in Arunachal Pradesh to counter China.

To develop the 2,967 border villages in 19 districts adjoining international borders in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and the UT of Ladakh, Indian government launched the Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) in April this year.

Soon after the launching of VVP at Kibithoo village in Arunachal Pradesh's Anjaw district, which shares borders with China and Myanmar, by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister had said that "today’s India is not what it was in 1962, because the country is now led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi."

Days before launching the ambitious VVP by India, Beijing announced Chinese names for 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh, which the neighbouring country claims as the southern part of Tibet.

Rs 4,800 crores have been allocated for the VVP for the financial years 2022-23 to 2025-26.

In the first phase, 662 border villages in four states and the UT of Ladakh have been identified for priority on coverage, which includes 455 villages in Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,080-km border with China, 520 kms with Myanmar and 217 kms with Bhutan.

Besides Arunachal Pradesh's 455 villages, the VVP would be implemented in Himachal Pradesh's 75 border villages followed by 51 villages in Uttarakhand, 46 villages in Sikkim and 35 villages in Ladakh.

Under the centrally-sponsored VVP, all round development would be carried out in the identified border villages aiming to improve the quality of life of the people and encourage them to stay there, thereby reversing the migration from these villages and adding to security of the border.

Due to lack of infrastructure, basic facilities and essential services in the border villages, there is a trend among the villagers to move to the urban and semi-urban areas besides the main cities for livelihood and to improve the living standards.

The ambitious VPP aims to check this migration from the border villages to the urban and semi-urban areas.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister said that his government is constructing about 50 small hydropower projects in the border outposts (BOPs) along the China border under the border village illumination programme.

An ambitious 1,748-km-long Frontier Highway would also be constructed linking West Kameng district in western Arunachal Pradesh and with Changlang district in the eastern region of the state, bordering China, Myanmar and Bhutan.

A top engineer of the Highways (PWD) department of Arunachal Pradesh government said that the 1,811-km-long Trans Arunachal Highway is near completion, and the focus now is on the Frontier Highway and inter-connectivity corridor projects, which were recently approved by the Centre.

He said that the Frontier Highway is proposed to begin from Bomdila in West Kameng (bordering China and Bhutan) and end at Vijaynagar in Changlang (bordering Myanmar), covering a distance of 1,748 km.

Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh’s BJP Vice-President Tarh Tarak, who led a four-month long Seema Yatra along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), recently said that there has been no noticeable encroachment or incursion of Indian land along Arunachal.

A team of 10 BJP leaders launched the Seema Yatra on December 22, 2022, in the Anjaw sector and ended in the Tawang sector in April this year.

Local party leaders joined each leg of the tour in phases.

Tarak said that during the tour, they interacted with the Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel posted along the LAC, as well as with residents of the border villages.

Five youths who went hunting on September 2, 2020, were allegedly whisked away by China's PLA from Sera-7, an Army patrol zone located in Upper Subansiri district.

They were later released in the Anjaw district after a few days.

On January 18, 2022, a youth was abducted at gunpoint from a jungle at Lungta Jor in Upper Siang district.

He was released on January 28 this year.