On a day the official bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories came into effect, China termed the move “unlawful” and “void” and said it was “not effective in any way”. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the so-called UTs of J&K and Ladakh included some of China’s territory into its administrative jurisdiction.

“The Indian government officially announced the establishment of so-called Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory and Ladakh Union Territory that included some of China’s territory into its administrative jurisdiction. China deplores and firmly opposes that. India unilaterally changes its domestic laws and administrative divisions challenging China’s sovereignty,” Geng Shuang said at a Foreign Ministry press briefing.

“This is unlawful and void and this is not effective in any way and will not change that fact that the area is under Chinese actual control,” he said.

Geng further urged India to “earnestly respect Chinese territorial sovereignty, abide by our treaties and uphold peace and tranquility in the border areas and create favourable conditions for proper settlement of boundary question.”

Reacting to China’s statement, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh were an integral part of India. “China is well aware of India’s consistent & clear position on this issue. The matter of reorganization of erstwhile state of J&K into UTs of J&K and Ladakh is entirely an internal affair of India,” Kumar said.

“We do not expect other countries, including China, to comment on the matters which are internal to India, just as India refrains from commenting on internal issues of other countries,” the MEA spokesperson said.

China also reiterated its “consistent and clear” position on the Kashmir issue. “It is a dispute left from history and it should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN charter, the relevant UNSC resolutions and other bilateral treaties and relevant side should resolve dispute through dialogue and consultations and uphold regional peace and stability,” Geng said.

On Thursday, the functioning of the two UTs at a bureaucratic level came into effect even as normal life remained affected across the Kashmir valley as a complete shutdown was observed. Girish Chandra Murmu was sworn in as the first Lieutenant Governor of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir

To a question on Pakistani media reports noting a trust deficit between China and India in light of President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Chennai, Geng said, “Regarding President Xi and Prime Minister Modi’s meeting in Chennai, I believe both sides have released statements and press releases and both sides exchanged views on the global, regional, long term and strategy issues in a friendly atmosphere and agreed to develop closer partnerships.”

Further, Geng said China and Pakistan were all weather strategic partners and their cooperation was very close. He also noted that India and China discussed cooperation in various areas, including people-to-people exchange mechanisms.

“I believe this includes cooperation in people-to -people exchanges. Cooperation between China and India grew fast in the past years. And we have mechanism for people-to-people exchange. In many areas we have fruitful outcomes. I believe this contributes to our mutual understanding and trust and we will work with the Indian side under the people-to-people exchange mechanisms to work for greater mutual understanding and trust between our peoples,” he said. (Source: The Indian Express)

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