Former Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Naravane (retd) on Tuesday shared a map of China on his X handle, saying, “Finally someone has got the map of China as it really is”.
This came days after Beijing, on August 28, released the 2023 edition of the “standard map of China” that included Taiwan, the South China Sea, Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as Chinese territories.
The map was dismissed by India, which also lodged a strong protest with China over its so-called “standard map” laying claim over Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin. New Delhi asserted that such steps only complicate the resolution of the boundary question.
A few days back, a number of ASEAN member countries such as Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines also reacted sharply to China’s territorial claim and its “standard map”.
The ASEAN countries have been insisting on a binding code of conduct (COC) on the South China Sea largely in view of China’s consistent attempts to assert its expansive claims over the region.
INDIAN OFFICIALS’ VISIT TO TAIPEI
On August 8, General Naravane, along with former Navy Chief Karambir Singh and former Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria visited and delivered talks in Taipei in Taiwan, which Beijing claims as a breakaway region.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen delivered the opening address at the Ketagalan Forum’s 2023 Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue event, organised by the Taiwanese foreign ministry.
Three weeks later, the Chinese foreign ministry, when asked to comment on the trip, said it “firmly opposed” such visits without directly naming India.
“China firmly opposes all forms of official interaction between the Taiwan authorities and countries having diplomatic relations with China,” Wang Wenbin, the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson said during a regular briefing in Beijing.
“This is our consistent and clear position,” Wang said, according to the official transcript of the press conference published on the Chinese foreign ministry website.
“We hope the country concerned will abide by the one-China principle, prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues and refrain from having any form of military and security cooperation with Taiwan,” he added.
The visit to Taipei by General Naravane and two other former service chiefs was significant considering India does not hold formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Meanwhile, China has been flexing its military muscles around Taiwan, hoping to intimidate the democratic country which it regards as its own territory.
The presence of Indian officials in Taipei has resulted in a lot of speculation, especially about India’s stand on Chinese aggression against Taiwan.
Ties between India and China came under severe strain following the eastern Ladakh border row that began in May 2020.
Indian and Chinese troops are locked in an over three-year confrontation at certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement from several areas following extensive diplomatic and military talks.
India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) were key to the normalisation of overall relations.
Notably, India follows the ‘One China policy’ and does not have any formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
WHEN CHINA URGED INDIA NOT TO ‘OVER-INTERPRET’ THE NEW MAP
On August 30, China defended its move to release the new “standard map” for 2023, saying that it is a “routine practice” in accordance with its law. The country also urged India to “stay objective and calm” and refrain from “over-interpreting” the issue.
Asked about his reaction to India’s diplomatic protest by a Chinese state-run outlet, Wang Wenbin, the foreign ministry spokesperson, told a media briefing in Beijing that “on August 23, the Ministry of National Resources of China released the 2023 edition of the standard map”.
“It is a routine practice in China’s exercise of sovereignty in accordance with the law. We hope relevant sides can stay objective and calm, and refrain from over-interpreting the issue,” Wang said.