Following U.S. President Barack Obama’s departure from India after a major bilateral visit, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that India had “honest intentions” in resolving all disputes with China, referring specifically to the land-based border disputes between the two countries. India and China currently dispute the territories of Aksai Chin in Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh. The former is administered by China and claimed by India whereas the latter is administered by India as a state and is claimed in its entirety by China as “South Tibet.” The two countries fought a war in 1962 in which China emerged victorious and won exclusive administrative control of Aksai Chin.
“There is a perceptional difference along the Sino-Indian border. China says the border is here. We say no, the border is here. We have been trying to resolve the border problem. China should come forward. India wants a peaceful resolution of all disputes,” Singh said, shortly after presiding over the inauguration of a battalion camp for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Singh additionally clarified that India had no territorial ambitions and that he was looking forward to China and India resolving their “perceptional differences” over their shared border.
“We are not expansionist. India’s history says that we have never been expansionist. We have never attacked any country. We are worshippers of peace. China should understand this. We want to resolve all issues with honesty,” he added. The attention on China at an event inaugurating camps for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police was intentional. China has reacted negatively to additional Indian patrols of disputed territories in the past.
Singh additionally referenced Obama’s recent visit to India and India’s broader foreign policy under the BJP: “We want to improve relations with America and other countries. Equally, we want to improve relations with our neighboring countries. India always believes that the whole world is a family. We believe that neighboring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan all are part of our family. We want to maintain good relations with all our neighboring countries as well as [the] rest of the world,” he said.
The BJP minister’s words don’t entirely mesh with his party’s actions since coming to power last May. Since that time, India has announced that it will allocate funds to specifically develop infrastructure and civic services in Arunachal Pradesh — a development that is primarily geared at staking out India’s administrative claim to the territory over China’s competing claims. The BJP government well additionally encourage internal migration to the Arunachal borderlands, making them an increasingly more inhabited region — effectively buttressing against Chinese military incursions (which primarily have occurred in inhospitable and uninhabited terrain).