Arunachal integral part of India

Itanagar, Feb 17: In a rare bipartisan signal of unequivocal support to India, three powerful Senators introduced a resolution in the United States (US) Senate that reaffirms that the state of Arunachal Pradesh as an “integral part of India”, supports India’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

It also condemns China for the “use of military force” to change the status quo at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and its other provocations, and lauds the government of India for the steps it has taken to “defend itself” against the “aggression and security threats” from China.

The resolution — introduced by Jeff Markley and Bill Haggerty and co-sponsored by John Cornyn — also supports India’s defense modernization and diversification applauds India’s development efforts in Arunachal including improving border infrastructure, commits to deepening US assistance in the region, encourages likeminded partners to bolster their assistance to Arunachal, and expresses support for the US-India bilateral partnership, including the recent initiative on critical and emerging technologies (ICET).

Markley is a progressive Democratic Senator from Oregon who is also co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Committee on China. Haggerty is the former US Ambassador to Japan. Both are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC).

And Cornyn is a co-founder and co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, a former Majority Senator and current member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The introduction of a resolution titled “Reaffirm Arunachal Pradesh as Indian Territory and condemn the PRC’s provocations in South Asia” is the first step. It has been returned to the SFRC and will resume if President Bob Menendez so decides. If it goes through a committee, it can be passed as a resolution in its own right or as part of larger legislation.

But the introduction of a resolution is in itself a powerful symbolic message of support for a number of reasons. First, since the US government officially recognizes Arunachal as part of India and a US Congress resolution has been passed condemning China for its post-Galwan incursions and aggression in 2020, this is the first time there has been a specific resolution of this kind that imitates India. Position on Arunachal Pradesh and broader Chinese aggression against the ALC in the Senate.

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Second, it goes beyond condemning China’s actions and expressly supports and commends India for the stance it has taken on China’s actions.

Third, it is bipartisan and has support from both the progressive end of the Democratic spectrum and the conservative end of the Republican spectrum.

To provide context, the resolution begins by stating that since the 1962 Sino-Indian War, the United States has recognized the McMahon Line as the international boundary between China and the “Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh” and the United States has recognized Arunachal “not as a disputed territory” but as “an integral part of the Republic of India” and this recognition is not restricted in any way.

The resolution said China will claim Arunachal as its territory, calling it “southern Tibet” and citing such claims as part of “its increasingly aggressive and expansionist policies.”

He then points to the December 2021 Arunachal map released by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, which assigned Mandarin names to 15 geographic features, including eight residential complexes, four mountain peaks, two rivers, and a mountain pass. Names of administrative regions in which each is located.

Referring to recent clashes in the Eastern Sector, the resolution highlights how Chinese and Indian forces clashed in Arunachal along the LAC in December 2022, “the largest clash in the Eastern Sector in six years.”

America in April 2020, “including increased troop deployments, construction of new infrastructure in disputed areas and harassment of patrols in India, particularly around Depsang Plains, Galwan Valley, Hot Springs, and Pangong Lake”. Improved relations between India and China and led to a confrontation in the Galwan Valley that killed Indian soldiers.

China, the resolution said, has also established two Chinese villages near the LAC near Arunachal and extended its land claims to Bhutanese territory in the eastern sector. Arunachal is said to contain Tawang (“home of the venerable Tawang Monastery” and “birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso”), referring to China’s diplomatic opposition to the Dalai Lama’s visits to Arunachal and the refusal to issue visas to “residents of Indian state” for trips to China.

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Chinese provocations, according to the resolution, “hampered poverty alleviation and economic development in Arunachal Pradesh, where nearly 25 percent of the population lives in multidimensional poverty according to India’s 2021 National Multidimensional Poverty Index, prompting many international donors to be wary of providing aid to be due to the perception of the state as a disputed territory.”

He then describes India’s policies, noting that the government has increased funding for border infrastructure, rural infrastructure, housing, tourism, road links, and distributed renewable energy generation through the Vibrant Villages -Program. India has also taken “steps to defend against attacks and security threats” from China, including protecting its telecoms infrastructure and screening investments.

It is in the US interest to engage with India bilaterally through the Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and multilaterally through Quad and I2U2, the resolution said.

He recognizes that this is a significant and ongoing advancements in the fundamental defense partnership between the United States and India, “including an effort to build an advanced and comprehensive defense partnership in which American and Indian forces coordinate across all sectors,” and Recognizes this India plays an important leadership role on the global stage, including as Chair of the G20 this year.

In this regard, the resolution commits the Senate to “unambiguously” recognize Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India and to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The resolution “condemns” China’s “use of military force to change the status quo” across Latin America and the Caribbean and its “further provocations,” including building villages in disputed areas, expanding land claims in Bhutan, and releasing Maps assigning Mandarin names to cities and features in Arunachal Pradesh.

The resolution further commended India for taking steps to defend itself against Chinese aggression and security threats, “including protecting telecommunications infrastructure, reviewing procurement processes and supply chains, implementing investment control standards and expanding cooperation with Taiwan on public health and other sectors”.

The resolution also supports a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific and the modernization of India’s defenses, including its diversification “away from countries that lack the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other nations respect”, which is not a subtle reference to Russia.

He commends India for stepping up its development efforts in Arunachal, including improving border infrastructure, connectivity, and energy security, and finally the production of renewable energies. Finally, the resolution commits to increasing US assistance to the region, including through the State Department and USAID, “using funding mechanisms such as the PRC Countering Influence Fund.”

It encourages “international partners and like-minded donors to increase relief efforts in Arunachal Pradesh”. It also supports the strengthening of the bilateral partnership through “increased defense interoperability and information sharing, especially for early warning systems”, ICET, continued economic cooperation, broad and enduring people-to-people, and multilateral ties through the Summit Quad East Asia and other international platforms reports.