China today restated its stand against McMahon Line on the India-China boundary, saying it is "illegal" even as the country sought alternative ways of solving the vexed border issue at an early date through "friendly consultations" so as to create more favourable conditions for bilateral ties.
"The Chinese side holds a consistent and clear position on the eastern section of the China-India boundary," foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, reaffirming Beijing's claim that Arunachal Pradesh is a part of 'Southern Tibet'.
"The Chinese government does not recognise 'the McMahon Line', which is illegal," she said, reacting to national security advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval's remarks made on Friday at the K F Rustamji Memorial Lecture on the 50th anniversary of BSF's founding.
Doval, in his address on Friday, had said the settlement of the border issue is "critical" for India-China ties and called for a "larger plan" for "tackling" contentious matters.
"We are particularly concerned about the eastern sector where the claims have been made on Tawang (in Arunachal Pradesh) which is totally in contravention of accepted principles," Doval, also the special representative of Sino-India boundary talks, said even as he said ties with China are looking up.
"China's stand on the border dispute has been in complete contravention of accepted principles. They have accepted the McMohan Line while settling the border with Myanmar and then they say that the same line is not acceptable in case of India, particularly in Tawang. The settled population in these areas has been part of the national mainstream (of India) all through," Doval said.
The line that was agreed to by Britain and Tibet as part of the 1914 Simla Accord is named after Sir Henry McMahon, foreign secretary of the British-run government of India and the chief negotiator of settling disputes with China.
"We have got a very long border, we have got 3,488km long border, a very difficult and mountainous terrain snow-clad... now for the bilateral relations with China, border is the critical and vital issue," Doval said.
Doval, however, cautioned that India could not ignore the dispute. "We have to settle this dispute. China is an important country for us. It is one of the world's largest economies. It has got a long border with us. It has a special relationship with Pakistan. Both these countries are nuclear and not the kind of democracies that we are," Doval said.
Hua skirted Doval's assertion that China recognised the McMahon Line in the case of Burma but not when it came to the Indian border.
She said "it is not easy to resolve the China-India boundary question, as it is an issue left over from history".
Eighteen rounds of talks between India-China so far to resolve the dispute "made important progress, laying a solid foundation for the continuous and steady growth of China-India relations", she said.
"During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to China, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question by pressing ahead with the process of the special representatives' meeting," Hua added.