Former Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Naravane (retd), stirred the diplomatic pot with a provocative map tweet aimed at China, raising questions and concerns over India’s stance on contentious territorial issues. The tweet, posted on the X platform (formerly Twitter), featured a multicolored map that redefined China’s borders, marking several regions as ‘occupied,’ including Ladakh and Tibet.
General Naravane’s map tweet added fuel to the ongoing territorial disputes between India and China. Just days prior, on August 28, Beijing had unveiled its 2023 edition of the “standard map of China,” which notably included Taiwan, the South China Sea, Arunachal Pradesh, and Aksai Chin as part of Chinese territory. India swiftly rejected this so-called “standard map,” staunchly asserting its claim over Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin and lodging a vehement protest with Beijing. New Delhi emphasized that such actions only further complicate the resolution of the long-standing boundary question.
General Naravane’s map tweet came on the heels of strong reactions from several ASEAN member countries, including Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, to China’s territorial claims and its “standard map.” These countries have persistently called for a binding code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, primarily due to China’s consistent efforts to assert its expansive claims over the region.
On August 8, General Naravane, along with former Navy Chief Karambir Singh and former Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, made a significant visit to Taipei, Taiwan, an island nation that Beijing regards as a breakaway region. This visit garnered substantial attention and raised speculation about India’s stance on Chinese assertiveness regarding Taiwan.
In response to the visit, China’s foreign ministry expressed strong opposition without directly naming India. Wang Wenbin, the foreign ministry spokesperson, stated that China firmly opposes all official interactions between Taiwan authorities and countries with diplomatic relations with China. He stressed the importance of abiding by the one-China principle and refraining from military and security cooperation with Taiwan.
Relations between India and China have faced significant challenges, notably stemming from the eastern Ladakh border dispute that began in May 2020. Despite disengagement efforts in certain areas, both nations maintain a tense standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). India has consistently emphasized the need for peace and tranquility along the LAC as a prerequisite for normalizing overall relations.