China said on Friday that it is opposed to a G20 tourism meeting next week in the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir in India and will not attend.
India, which holds the chair of G20 this year, has organized a series of meetings across the country in the run-up to the summit in New Delhi in September.
“China is firmly opposed to holding any kind of G20 meetings in disputed territory, and will not attend such meetings,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.
In 2019, India split the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir to create the two federal territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
A large chunk of Ladakh is under China’s control.
Ties between New Delhi and Beijing have been strained since a military clash in Ladakh in 2020 in which 24 soldiers were killed.
Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, will host a meeting of the tourism working group for G20 members on May 22-24.
Kashmir is claimed in full but ruled in part by nuclear-armed neighbours India and China-ally Pakistan, which has also opposed India’s decision to hold a G20 meeting in Kashmir.
India has countered the objection saying it is free to hold meetings on its own territory. It said on Friday peace and tranquility on its border is essential for normal ties with China.
China and Pakistan have both condemned India for holding the event in the Muslim-majority Kashmir, a region that has been disputed between New Delhi and Islamabad.
Both countries claim the region in its entirety but only govern parts of it. They have fought three wars since independence from the United Kingdom in 1947 over Kashmir.
India-Pakistan relations have been frozen since 2019 when New Delhi changed the status of Jammu and Kashmir state, ended its special status, and converted it into a federal territory.
Security beefed up in Kashmir
India has countered the objection, saying it is free to hold meetings on its own territory.
On Friday, it said peace and tranquillity on its border are essential for normal ties with China.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the relationship between the nuclear-armed neighbours can only be based on mutual respect, sensitivity, and interest, in comments that mark a rare articulation of New Delhi’s position since ties with Beijing deteriorated in 2020.
“India is fully prepared and committed to protecting its sovereignty and dignity,” Modi said in an interview with Nikkei Asia ahead of his visit to Japan to attend the G7 summit.
The three-day gathering takes place at a sprawling, well-guarded venue on the shores of Dal Lake in Srinagar. Police said security was beefed up “at vulnerable locations to avoid any chance of terrorist attack during the G20” meeting.