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China reacts sharply to Antony's visit to Arunachal Pradesh



Beijing, February 25 (PTI): Reacting sharply to Defence Minister AK Antony's visit to Arunachal Pradesh for its statehood celebrations, China today said India should refrain from taking any action that could "complicate" the border issue.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei has "asked India to work with China to maintain peace and stability in border areas", state-run Xinhua news agency reported tonight.
Saying that China advocates seeking a fair and rational solution through equal and friendly negotiations, Hong said, Bejing's stance on Sino-Indian border issues, including disputes regarding the eastern section, has been consistent and clear-cut. "He also called on India to refrain from taking any action that could complicate the issue", the news agency report said. "Hong made the remark when asked to comment on a news report of Indian officials participating in activities organised by the so-called 'Arunachal Pradesh region'", the report said without directly referring to Antony's participation in the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Arunachal Pradesh at Itanagar on February 20.
In his speech at the statehood celebrations, Antony had said "we are aware of the challenges which people living in border areas face and it is our collective duty to ensure that our border areas are developed as any other part of the country".
Referring to the highly-sensitive nature of the state, he said that the importance of a secure, non-porous international border must continue to be the topmost priority area of the Centre. "Arunachalees have always been known to be fiercely patriotic and yield to none in their love for the motherland," he had said.
China routinely take exception to any high level visits of Indian officials to Arunachal Pradesh which it claims is a part of Southern Tibet.
It was part of the discussion of the past 15 rounds of border talks by the Special Representatives by the two countries. China also denies visa to people of Arunachal Pradesh as part of its claim to the area.
In a recent case, visa was denied to a senior Indian Air Force officer to visit China as part of defence delegation prompting New Delhi to scale down the size of the delegation.

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