Wednesday, Jun 25, 2003
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By P. S. Suryanarayana
To a specific question from The Hindu, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Kong Quan, defined Beijing's position on Sikkim with a touch of high diplomatic nuance too. He said: "Sikkim is an enduring question left over from history. We have to respect history. (But) we have to take into consideration realistic factors (too)." Adding this accent on "realistic factors", the spokesman delivered the punch-line that the issue concerning Sikkim's political status "cannot be solved overnight".
Noting that the Prime Ministers of India and China should be "given credit" for evolving a formula on Tibet, Mr. Kong saw the effort as an one that could give an "active and positive" thrust to the bilateral interactions. Answering questions from other Indian journalists, he disputed suggestions that either India or China might have yielded more than the other on Sikkim and Tibet. The two countries had now entered a "very positive and mutually beneficial" phase with a "win-win" accord. Dismissing the Dalai Lama question as something not very relevant to the latest phase in the Sino-Indian interactions, the spokesman said Beijing was cognisant of India's line that it would not allow its territory to be used for anti-China activities.
On the debate that the new Sino-Indian border trade memorandum could perhaps be seen as reflecting Beijing's implicit recognition of New Delhi's sovereignty over Sikkim, Mr. Kong stopped just short of suggesting that any such interpretation would be a case of reading the relevant document upside down. The relevant maps would be the best guide to the border trade routes.
On the Western concerns about a possible Sino-Indian entente to address the U.S. influence in this part of the world, Mr. Kong said the unfolding development should be seen in the context of the efforts by Beijing and New Delhi to work together for mutual security and prosperity and not as concerted moves to checkmate any other power. On the possibility that the current Sino-Indian bonhomie could also be conducive to a trilateral arrangement involving Russia too, he said that the evolving cooperation between Moscow and Beijing as also New Delhi was "not (an) alignment" in any strategic or other sense.
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