India on Thursday pushed back against China’s criticism of its development of border infrastructure, as well as reminding Beijing that Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh were integral parts of India.
Responding to questions, MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said, “Careful and specific attention is given to improvement of infrastructure in the border areas in order to facilitate economic development of these areas as also to meet India’s strategic and security requirements.”
Reiterating that J&K, Ladakh and Arunachal were “integral” parts of India, Srivastava reminded Beijing that if China wanted India to respect the red lines of its sovereign territory claims, it would have to respect India’s sovereignty as well. “China has no locus standi to comment on India’s internal matters. We hope that countries will not comment on India’s internal matters, as much as they expect the same of others,” he added.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had openly criticised India’s building of infrastructure as the cause of the current conflict. He was quoted as saying on Tuesday: “For a while, the Indian side has been stepping up infrastructure building and military deployment along the border with China. This is the root cause of tensions. We urge the Indian side to earnestly implement the consensus reached by the two sides, refrain from taking actions that will complicate the situation, and take concrete measures to safeguard peace and tranquillity along the border.” In addition, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi had hit out against the Quad, describing it as an “Indo-Pacific Nato”.
Both Indian and Chinese spokespersons lectured the other side on how to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
On Thursday, Srivastava said, “Restoration of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas is best done by scrupulously observing all relevant agreements in their entirety.”
China has been building its own border infrastructure since 1950, with Mao’s famous line when he ordered the PLA to “advance while building roads”. That has informed Chinese strategy for decades, particularly where Tibet was concerned — building roads to link Tibet to Xinjiang, Yunnan, Sichuan and Qinghai.
In recent decades, China has built roads and railway lines to expand its reach to the borders of India, Nepal and Bhutan. In fact, the Doklam crisis of 2017 started with China building roads on the plateau, threatening India’s Siliguri Corridor.