A bizarre diplomatic flap has erupted between China and India over a map that suggested that parts of Indian territory belongs to China.
During a trade and business forum in New Delhi, the Chinese power company TBEA, which signed an accord to invest $400-million in the Indian state of Gujarat, produced a brochure that featured a map of India in which the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh appeared to be in China, while Jammu and Kashmir were shown to belong to Pakistan.
The Chinese ambassador Zhang Yan attended the event.
When an Indian journalist asked Zhang about the incorrect map, the Chinese envoy reportedly told him to “shut up.”
Peppered with questions on the map showing Arunachal Pradesh… in China and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in Pakistan, Zhang Yan told the journalist to 'shut up', the Hindustan Times reported.
Gautam Bambawale, a joint secretary at India's external affairs ministry, also expressed his unhappiness with the map.
Zhang defended his behavior by insisting that the reporter pushed, pushed, pushed, but added that the map would be corrected.
We are working for friendlier ties with India... this will not help, Zhang added.
India’s principal opposition party, the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has condemned Zhang’s behavior as insulting and unacceptable and demanded he apologize for both the inaccurate map and for his treatment of the Indian journalist.
A BJP spokesman said: “We demand an unqualified apology from the ambassador to the people of India for presenting a wrong map of India while trying to get trade and economic benefits from us, and [for] using undemocratic and bad street language against a respectable member of Indian media fraternity.”
He added: They [China] want our market but not the heart, it's quite obvious, but they shouldn't be allowed to walk away with such brazen acts of undiplomatic behavior. We hope this government will take note of the ambassador's foul mouthing yesterday and warn him officially not to indulge in such unfriendly acts in future. Obviously, Chinese ambassador forgot that he is posted in a vibrant democracy where [Tiananmen] episodes are not allowed and media is free and not a state-run apparatus taking orders from party bosses who can 'shut up' a journalist.”
While the map may seem a trivial affair, over the years India and China have bitterly argued over parts of their shared border – even fighting a brief war in 1962.
Indeed, China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory and complained with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the state during his 2009 election campaign.
Kashmir (which is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan) remains an irresolvable issue.
The new chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Nabam Tuki, who is visiting New Delhi, said his state is an integral part of India and will remain so.