After Protest by India, China Asks Not to 'Over-Interpret' Map, Calls it 'Exercise of Sovereignty'

The furore in India had been over the fact that China's new map has continued to show the whole of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin region as part of its territory. 

New Delhi: A day after India said it had lodged a “strong protest” with Beijing over the fact that China’s official political map displayed Indian territories as within China’s borders, China on Wednesday, August 30, dismissed the objection by describing it as “routine exercise of sovereignty”.

It also advised New Delhi – without naming it – to “not over-interpret” the action.

On Monday night, Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources issued the 2023 edition of standard map of China that continued to show the whole of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin region as part of its territory. 

With the opposition party Congress creating a furore on Tuesday, the external affairs minister S. Jaishankar termed those “absurd claims”. This was followed by India’s Ministry of External Affairs declaring that a “strong protest” was lodged with China.

A day later, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the release of the standard map was “China’s routine exercise of sovereignty in accordance with the law”. Without taking India’s name, he added, “We hope that relevant parties will view it objectively and calmly and not over-interpret it”. This is a machine translation of his response in Chinese during the daily media briefing.

The Congress escalated its attack on the government of soft-pedalling on China, with party leader Rahul Gandhi urging the Indian Prime Minister to speak on the topic.

“This map issue is very serious but they have already taken away our land and the PM should say something about that too,” the former Congress president told reporters before he left for Karnataka earlier in the day.

Gandhi also repeated his previous line of attack that China has been allowed to grab land during the current stand-off in eastern Ladakh. “I have just returned from Ladakh and I have been saying for years that what the PM has said, that not one inch of land has been lost in Ladakh, is an absolute lie. The whole of Ladakh knows that China has usurped our land,” he said.

The Indian foreign minister had previously defended against the opposition by claiming that stand-off was not over land grab, but due to “forward deployment” of troops. 

Issuing the statement about the protest, MEA’s spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “We reject these claims as they have no basis. Such steps by the Chinese side only complicate the resolution of the boundary question.”

We have today lodged a strong protest through diplomatic channels with the Chinese side on the so-called 2023 ‘standard map’ of China that lays claim to India’s territory,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi. He added, “We reject these claims as they have no basis.”

China’s most recent action came just a few days after a recent interaction between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the BRICS summit. The disparate accounts from the two sides about the conversation concerning the border stand-off underscored the absence of any common understanding on de-escalation and disengagement on all the remaining friction points.

President Xi Jinping is also scheduled to attend the G-20 summit in India in less than two weeks, even though there has been no official announcement so far. It would be the first visit to India by the Chinese leader since October 2019 for the second unofficial summit.