Beijing, Feb 27: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh could "add fuel" to the territorial dispute and make it more difficult to resolve the vexed boundary issue, a Chinese state-run daily said.
"On whatever occasion and in whatever form, should a Prime Minister of India formally visit the disputed border region and celebrate the founding of a state unilaterally declared by India, it will undoubtedly step on China's toes and influence bilateral relations," a write-up in the influential Global Times said.
"Just a few weeks after the Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj advocated an 'out-of-box solution' for Sino-Indian border disputes, Modi's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, established largely in territory belonging to China's Tibet, has triggered strong dissatisfaction and opposition from China," the article said.
It said that while there can be plenty of reasons for Modi to attend the celebration in Arunachal Pradesh, including boosting BJP's political influence, "he has more reasons not to go, among which the major concern is that a visit could add fuel to the long-standing territorial disputes between China and India, making it difficult to achieve a resolution and irritating bilateral ties."
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of Southern Tibet. It says the border dispute is confined to 2000 km, mainly in the eastern part of the over 4000 km boundary and makes no mention of the Aksai Chin area taken over in the 1962 war.
Both India and China are readying for the 18th round of boundary talks expected to take place next month. The talks will be held between designated Special Representatives -- National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.
Prime Minister Modi visited Arunachal Pradesh on February 20 to participate in the state's 29th foundation day and also flagged off the Naharlagun-New Delhi Express.
China protested the visit twice. While a diplomatic protest was lodged on the same day, the next day Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin "called in" Indian Ambassador Ashok Kantha and stated that Modi's visit "infringes on China's territorial sovereignty and interests, magnifies the dispute on the border issue and violates the consensus on appropriately handling the border issue."
Refuting Chinese criticism, spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin had said in New Delhi that "the state of Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and inalienable part of India. The people of Arunachal Pradesh are citizens of India. Indian leaders visit Arunachal Pradesh from time to time, as they visit other parts of India."