ibnlive » India

Nov 20, 2006 at 05:07pm IST

Arunachal is Chinese land: envoy

New Delhi: Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory, Beijing's envoy to Delhi has said ahead of the country's President's visit to India on November 20.

In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi reiterated his country's claim to the strategically important state and said the border dispute with India was complicated and would take time to resolve.

“In our position the whole of what you call the state of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory and Tawang (district) is only one place in it and we are claiming all of that-that's our position,” said Ambassador Sun Yuxi.

Sun Yuxi avoided a question on China wanting India to give up nuclear weapons. "Unfortunately, we have five nuclear weapons powers in the world. That number should be reduced. We will be very happy if we can give up our nuclear weapons and are working for an international agreement on elimination of nuclear weapons," he said.

Long march to settlement

China cites the Tawang Monastery, one of the last vestiges of Mahayana Buddhism, as evidence that the mountainous district of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh once belonged to Tibet and that India should hand it back to help settle the row.

The dispute over the 3,500-km India-China border led to the 1962 war. New Delhi disputes Beijing's rule over 38,000 sq km of barren, icy and uninhabited land on the Tibetan plateau, which China seized from India in the 1962 war.

China, for its part, claims 90,000 sq km of territory in Arunachal Pradesh.

Within that disputed area is Tawang and its monastery. The neighbours have held several rounds of talks since 1981 to resolve the dispute but have so far failed to make progress.

Last year, they agreed on an 11-point roadmap to settle the border row in light of booming bilateral trade and growing ties.

The proposal was seen as an attempt towards accepting the status quo and hammering out a swap whereby China would give up claims in the east in return for India's recognition of Chinese sovereignty in the strategic Aksai Chin area in the west.

Although both sides seemed amenable to such a deal, Beijing's demand for Tawang - and India's refusal to part with any populated territories - has created a stumbling block.