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Map on China visas

New Delhi, Nov. 23: India today termed China depicting the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as part of its territory in its new e-passports as “unacceptable.”

Indian mission in Beijing has retaliated by issuing Chinese citizens Indian visas with Indian map.

The Survey of India map on Indian visas issued to Chinese citizens shows Arunachal Pradesh and Akasi Chin as Indian territory. China claims all of the 93,000 km of Arunachal Pradesh and terms Tawang as South Tibet.

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid said India was “not prepared to accept” China’s version of the maps on e-passports. “We, therefore, ensure that our flags of disagreement are put out immediately when something happens. We can do it in an agreeable way or you can do it in a disagreeable way,” he said.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson said the matter should be dealt with in a “level-headed and rational manner” to avoid “unnecessary disruptions” to people to people exchanges. “Hope the countries regard it in a cool-headed manner. China would like to maintain communication with other counties to ensure convenience of travel for both Chinese and foreigners,” the spokesperson said in Beijing.

After the Chinese government started issuing the new e-passports, carrying pages with watermark Chinese maps including Arunachal and Aksai Chin as its parts, India responded by issuing visas to Chinese nationals with a map of India including these places as part of its territory.

China had earlier triggered a diplomatic row by issuing stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir, terming it a “disputed territory” and denied visas to those hailing from Arunachal Pradesh. India had then protested with Beijing, which relented to go back to issuing normal visas to J&K residents.

China’s claim to Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,030-km unfenced border with it, is not new. In 1962, China and India fought a brief war over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, but in 1993 and 1996 the two countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control to maintain peace and tranquility. Aksai Chin is in China’s control.

On Monday, a high- level team of Chinese diplomats, for the first time, visited Sikkim in connection with consular issues, which was seen as reconfirmation of Beijing’s stance of accepting the state as part of India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Cambodia where the two leaders discussed ways to move forward on the vexed boundary issue.

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon is expected to visit Beijing soon for the next round of boundary talks at the level of Special Representatives with his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo.

Both Beijing and New Delhi make regular noises on the boundary issue to keep their domestic public opinion happy but have in the past decade focused on increasing bilateral trade which has risen from a measly $2 billion a decade back to reach $100 billion by 2015 while leaving the boundary dispute for ‘destiny’ to resolve at some future date.