NEW DELHI – India has responded to China’s newly revised passports that show disputed territory near their shared border as part of China by issuing Chinese citizens visas embossed with New Delhi’s own maps.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Saturday that the Chinese passport map showing India’s Arunachal Pradesh state and the Himalayan region of Aksai Chin as part of China was “unacceptable.”
India retaliated by starting to issue visas to Chinese citizens with a map of India that includes all territories claimed by New Delhi.
The new Chinese passports have also upset the Philippines and Vietnam because they show disputed parts of the South China Sea as belonging to China.
In New Delhi, China is viewed with suspicion as a longtime ally and weapons supplier to Pakistan, India’s bitter rival. For Beijing, the presence in India of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and 120,000 other exiles from Tibet remains a source of tension.
India says China controls 41,440 square kilometers (16,000 square miles) of its territory in Aksai Chin in Kashmir, while Beijing claims that the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,050-kilometer (650-mile) border with the Chinese-run region of Tibet, is rightfully Chinese territory.
India and China fought a brief border war in 1962, and large stretches of the India-China border are still undemarcated.
The territorial disputes remain unresolved despite 15 rounds of talks, but relations have improved in recent years as China and India’s trade has grown exponentially to reach more than $75 billion last year.
However, the trade remains heavily skewed in favor of China, which is now India’s biggest trading partner.