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The Rediff Special/ J N Dixit

Tibetan must not affect our relations with China

Dalai Lama First of all, we must accept that the Chinese are aware of the limitations of political uncertainties which affect India at present in terms of domestic politics and in terms of India's relations with its immediate neighbours, four of which also happen to be China's neighbours (Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan). China remains seriously concerned about the activities of the Dalai Lama with his base in India. We must ensure that Tibetan ethno-religious politics does not affect our interests in terms of maintaining stability in our relations with China.

Sino-Indian discussions on the boundary question are progressing slowly. Both India and China should accept that resolving the issue will take a long time and will have to go through complex negotiations. Both sides should nevertheless endeavour to show some progress of political significance in these discussions.

A practical course of action would be for India and China to issue a joint communique or declaration during President Jiang Zemin's visit, the contents of which could be similar to the Shanghai communique which China issued jointly with Russia and its Central Asian neighbours in April this year.

The communique could contain two categories of joint commitments by both the countries. First relating to political and defence confidence building measures; the second category could consist of both sides agreeing on some general principles on the basis of which they will resolve the boundary question in due course, which could be:

  • Both sides would give up claims based on events of the colonial period which are not relevant to their current geo-strategic and political interests.

  • Both sides will try to settle the boundary issue on the basis of accepted principles of international law by demarcating boundaries between countries giving due respect to geographical features and considerations of stabilising the boundary and ensuring mutual security.

  • Both sides could agree to demarcate the boundary using modern cartographic techniques and tools.

  • Both sides may agree to settle the boundary dispute on the basis of mutual adjustment and respecting each other's legitimate security interests.

    This proposed Sino-Indian joint communique need not be as detailed as the Shanghai communique. Documents could be more general and conceptual in nature. In my view, it would be worthwhile for our government to study the Shanghai communique and see if such a declaration cannot be issued during Jiang's visit which would be acknowledged by both the Indian and the Chinese people as a significant political development furthering Sino-Indian relations.

    In the meantime, some joint decisions could be taken to further expand bilateral relations which have been carefully structured over the last five years since Li Peng's visit. This could cover areas of border trade, expansion and diversification of bilateral trade, similar enhancement of scientific and technological co-operation union should include spheres or peaceful uses of nuclear energy and space technology.

    An important point to be noticed in conclusion is that regardless of the differences in approach on the CTBT, the fact of the matter is that China does not question India's sovereign discretion in determining the options which India should retain for its national security.

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