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India recognises Tibet as part of Chinese territory

M.K. Razdan and Anil K Joseph (Press Trust of India)

Posted: Jun 24, 2003 at 1947 hrs IST

Maintaining that it had made no concessions, India on Tuesday 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 on Monday after Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, were made public here on Tuesday 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 Tibetan 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, they said.

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 Brajesh Mishra, National Security Advisor and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and 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 said that the Indian side recognised that the Tibet Autonomous Reigon is 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, 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.

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