NEW DELHI: Ahead of the boundary talks with China next month, India Thursday disclosed that Beijing had objected to New Delhi's loan proposal for a project in Arunachal Pradesh at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and made it clear once more that the northeastern state, which China has claimed, is "not negotiable".
"India and China seek a fair and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary issue. We have a mechanism of special representatives for working out a framework. The special representatives will be meeting next month," External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told the Rajya Sabha during question hour.
"We have friendly relations with China. We are engaging in multilateral activities. Trade is growing and we would like this to continue," he added.
The minister, however, dodged a question from noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani on whether the government would adopt the arbitration route as laid down in the constitution to resolve the border dispute with China.
"How vigorously will you contest China's claim? We have been hearing this for 60 years but nothing has happened. Are you aware that Article 51 (of the constitution) provides a lesson? Clause 4 says India must strive to resolve all disputes through arbitration. Have you ever offered arbitration (to China)?" Jethmalani asked.
All that Krishna said was: "With all vehemence, we have conveyed to the ADB that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and that this is not negotiable."
National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo will meet here Aug 7-8 for the 12th round of talks to resolve the decades-old boundary dispute between the two countries.
Although bilteral trade is growing, there have been some discordant notes recently with China trying to block an ADB loan of $2.9 billion to India as $60 million was meant for a watershed management project in Arunachal Pradesh.
"China did not endorse the Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) 2009-12 for India in the board of the ADB on the ground that the proposed India CPS involved technical assistance funding for the Flood and River Erosion Management Project in Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims is its territory," Krishna said, making official what was only speculated upon till this day.
All member countries on the board of executive directors of ADB except China supported the India funding plans, he said.
The member countries were also told that "China's objection on political grounds is a clear violation of the ADB's charter which prohibits the bank from evaluating any proposal on grounds other than economic", he said.
"India's CPS was discussed in the meeting of the board of executive directors of the ADB on June 15 and all member countries, except China, supported the document," Krishna said.
He said New Delhi had conveyed to the ADB member nations, including China, that Arunachal Pradesh is "an integral part of India and its status is not negotiable".
ADB assistance has to be strictly decided on economic parameters and not on political considerations, he said. "Ultimately, ADB had gone with India's point of view."
"We have put across (to China) in the strongest diplomatic language possible that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India," he said.
In this context, the minister noted that President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee had visited Arunachal Pradesh in the recent past to reinforce India's claims over the state.
"I, too, intend visiting Arunachal Pradesh shortly," Krishna said.
India accuses China of illegally occupying 43,180 sq km of territory in Jammu and Kashmir, including 5,180 sq km of Jammu and Kashmir's Northern Territories Pakistan illegally ceded to China in 1963.
On its part, Beijing accuses New Delhi of occupying some 90,000 sq km of Chinese territory, most of it in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.