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India fumes at Chinese FM’s remarks on Kashmir

Wang likely to visit India today after he made surprise trip to Kabul

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi drew a rebuke from the Indian government ahead of his expected but an unconfirmed visit to New Delhi on Friday, upsetting his hosts with remarks made in Pakistan this week concerning Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

Relations between the two nuclear-armed Asian powers turned chilly two years ago after a deadly border clash in the Ladakh region of Kashmir, and Wang would be the first high-level Chinese official to visit since that time.

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Attending a conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Pakistan on Tuesday, Wang said that “China shares the same hope” as the OIC on Kashmir and the body has long advocated Kashmiris’ “inalienable right to self-determination”. “We reject the uncalled reference to India by the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“Matters related to the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir are entirely the internal affairs of India. Other countries including China have no locus standi to comment. They should note that India refrains from the public judgement of their internal issues.”

An Indian government source told Reuters, that Wang would meet India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Friday, and that while the agenda was unclear, talks on the Ukraine conflict were expected.

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The source requested anonymity, and neither side has formally announced the Chinese minister’s planned visit. India’s foreign ministry said on Thursday it had no information to share on Wang’s visit. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday he too had no information on it.

China and India fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962. Relations became fraught again in June 2020, when 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed during a high-altitude clash in a disputed section of the western Himalayas.

Aside from the tensions in the Himalayas, India’s mistrust of China stems from Beijing’s support of old foe Pakistan, the competition for influence in Nepal, and concern over China’s economic clout in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Earlier, Wang Yi arrived in Kabul on Thursday morning on a trip that was not earlier announced, officials confirmed.

Director-General of the Afghan state-run Bakhtar News Agency, Abdul Wahid Rayan, confirmed the arrival of the Chinese foreign minister in Afghanistan’s capital.

The visit comes a week before Beijing hosts a two-day conference, on March 30-31, of Afghanistan’s neighbours on how to assist the Taliban government. Pakistan and Iran had earlier hosted similar meetings of these neighbouring countries after the Taliban takeover.

Yi’s visit is the first by a senior Chinese leader after the Taliban took control of Kabul in August and comes right after he completed his three-day visit to Islamabad where he attended the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s foreign minister’s conference, which ended yesterday, as a special guest.

Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi received Yi on arrival in Kabul along with a high-level delegation. The two sides will hold talks on important issues, focusing on China’s role in stability and development, the state news agency said.

FM Yi last visited Kabul in June 2017 after a huge truck bomb killed and injured many. The Chinese foreign minister’s visit might give a diplomatic boost to the Taliban government, which is yet to be recognised by any country.

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