Wednesday, June 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

India: Tibet Autonomous Region part of China
Special representatives on border dispute appointed
M.K. Razdan and Anil K. Joseph

Beijing, June 24
Maintaining that it had made no concessions, India today said that its recognition of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) as part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was consistent with its stand since 1954 even as the two countries announced the appointment of two high-level special representatives to speed up a settlement of the contentious border issue.

Two key documents, a joint declaration on principles that will guide Sino-Indian ties and a memorandum on expanding border trade, signed yesterday after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, were made public here this evening as the Indian leader wound up his discussions with the entire top leadership of China, including Chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission Jiang Zemin and President Hu Jintao.

Prior to the release of the two documents, the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed that India had admitted that the Tibet autonomous region was an "inalienable" part of the territory of China, a claim disproved by the text of the joint declaration which does not contain the word "inalienable."

Indian officials rejected suggestions that any concessions have been made on the Tibet question and maintained that the formulation was merely a "reflection of the contemporary reality on the ground." The effort on both sides was to move the bilateral relationship forward and there had been great success in that direction.

The officials explained that since 1954, the expressions used in bilateral agreements and other documents on Tibet included expressions such as "Tibet region of China" (1954), "Tibetan region is part of the People’s Republic of China (1958), "Tibet is an autonomous region of China" (1988 and 1991).

They pointed out that before the Tibetan Autonomous Region was formed in 1965, Tibet to which references had been made in 1954 and 1958 was a larger territory.

Covering major elements in Sino-Indian ties, the six-page first ever joint declaration on "principles for relations and comprehensive cooperation" says that both the countries will appoint a special representative each to "explore from the political perspective of the overall bilateral relationship the framework of a boundary settlement."

The appointment of Mr Brajesh Mishra, National Security Advisor and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and Mr Dai Bingguo, senior-most Vice Minister in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, as the two special representatives was announced by External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha at a press conference here.

The declaration says the Indian side recognised that the Tibet Autonomous Region is a part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China and reiterates that it will not allow Tibetans to engage in anti-China political activities in India.

Responding to a spate of questions on the formulation on Tibet, Mr Sinha insisted that the language of the declaration was very clear and did not need further defining.

The Indian position had been consistent for a long time and continues to be so, he said.

In the memorandum on expanding border trade, the two countries announced the setting up of an additional point on each side besides the existing through Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.

Significantly from the Indian point of view, the memorandum refers to mutual desire to open another pass on "India-China border" and states that on the Indian side Changgu of "Sikkim state" had been designated for this purpose and the Chinese had identified Renqinggang of the Tibet Autonomous Region as the venue for the border trade market.

The Indians see this as a significant step towards the ultimate recognition by China that Sikkim which merged with India in 1975 was an Indian territory, something Beijing has refused to acknowledge so far.

The two countries have decided to use Nathu La as the pass for entry and exit of persons, means of transport and commodities engaged in border trade. This could open up marketing opportunities for the whole of the eastern sector, according to Mr Sinha.

On the contentious border issue, the joint declaration affirms a readiness on both sides "to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through consultations on an equal footing".

Pending an ultimate solution, Beijing and New Delhi agreed that they should maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas and reiterated their commitment to continue the implementation of the agreements signed for this purpose, including the clarification of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Mr Sinha explained later that the appointment of Mr Mishra and Mr Dai would not effect the Joint Working Group (JWG) and the expert group (EG) dealing with the boundary issue. The appointment of special representatives was intended to speed up the resolution of the border issue.

Resolutely condemning terrorism in any form, India and China today declared that the struggle between the international community and global terrorism is a “comprehensive and sustained one”, with the ultimate objective of eradication of the menace “in all regions”.

The two sides also agreed to promote cooperation on counter-terrorism through their bilateral dialogue mechanism, according to details of a joint declaration signed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao, released here.

Supporting multilateral negotiations aimed at nuclear disarmament, the two countries firmly opposed the introduction of weapons in outer space and sought “equal security” for all at progressively lower levels of armament.

They agreed on the need to “broaden and deepen” defence exchanges which would help enhance mutual understanding and trust between the two armed forces.

The exchange of visits by the defence ministers and of military officials at various levels should be strengthened, said a joint declaration signed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao, copies of which were made available to the media today.

The two sides acknowledged the vital importance of the role of the UN, world peace, stability and development and agreed to work together to promote UN reforms.

While carrying out reforms of the UN Security Council “priority” should be given to enhancing representation of developing countries, the document said.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have accepted invitations to visit India dates for which will be worked out through diplomatic channels.

The invitation to the President from President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to visit India was conveyed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he called on the Chinese leader today.

Mr Vajpayee also invited his Chinese counterpart to come to India at a mutually convenient time, it was officially announced.

Mr Vajpayee also called on the Chairman of the Chinese Military Commission Jiang Zemin here today. Mr Jiang called Mr Vajpayee an “old friend”, whom he met at the conference on interaction and confidence-building measures in Asia held in Kazakhstan last year. — PTI

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