For the first time, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju was part of India’s delegation in a bilateral security meet with China as per reports. However his presence on the delegation riled China as Rijiju hails from the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh which China claims as part of its own territory.
As per reports, the Chinese made a strong representation to object this arrangement and had even asked for correction of this “wrong move”.
Rijiju was initially on the delegation but on Chinese insistence, his name was dropped. He had been kept off the meetings with Chinese officials until Monday. On Monday, while the restricted dialogue was underway between Rajnath Singh and Zhao Kezai, China’s Minister of Public Security, Rijiju was called in to participate in delegation-level talks. He was also part of the document signing.
The Home Ministry spokesperson confirmed Rijiju’s presence in the meeting but pleaded ignorance to any protest from the Chinese side.
Rijiju’s presence in the meeting held on Monday with Chinese officials is significant as until this time, the Indian government had been conceding to the sensitivities of China regarding Arunachal Pradesh. China had earlier protested against any high-level visits to Aunachal. It is for the same reason that Rijiju was absent from delegation-level talks during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September 2014. He also skipped the President of India’s state banquet for his Chinese counterpart during that visit.
According to the statement of MHA, during the meeting held on Monday, issues of mutual interest, including bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation were discussed, and both the sides welcomed increased cooperation between India and China in the area of security cooperation.
In April 2017, during the visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, China had warned about taking “necessary measures” to defend its territorial sovereignty and accused India of “obstinately” allowing the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit the “disputed” parts of the Northeastern state, causing “serious damage” to bilateral ties.