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Rediff.com  » News » India, China light up relations amidst Tibetan grief

India, China light up relations amidst Tibetan grief

Last updated on: March 29, 2012 21:36 IST

India, China light up relations amidst Tibetan grief

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Shubha Singh

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lit an oil lamp to mark the launch of the "Year of India-China Friendship and Cooperation" on Thursday after the two leaders met and discussed the state of their country's bilateral relations.

The Chinese side had, earlier in the day, described China's relations with India as having "a very sound momentum of growth and development."

Even the border issue was said to be progressing in a smooth way with the mechanism of the regular meeting of the special representatives while the two countries are able to maintain peace and tranquillity on the Line of Actual Control.

Indian officials, on their part, have characterised the bilateral ties as a "mature relationship' but the popular impression in both countries is of two rivals with a long history of irritants and mistrust.

A Year of Friendship and Cooperation with its multiple levels of interactions and a variety of cultural, economic, academic, political and people to people exchanges can be expected to change the mood.

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Image: Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh with the President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao lighting the traditional lamp to launch the India-China year of friendship and cooperation, in New Delhi
Photographs: PIB Photos

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India, China light up relations amidst Tibetan grief

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The two leaders had a wide ranging discussion on bilateral, regional and international issues.

Among India's top concerns is the growing deficit in its trade with China and it has been seeking access into Chinese market for its exports of IT products and pharmaceuticals.  

President Hu Jintao's current visit to India is his last visit before he steps down from office in the change of guard in China later this year.

The Chinese side was keen to ensure that nothing marred the president's visit to India and his presence at the BRICS summit, even thought tragic self-immolation by a young Tibetan activist in Delhi had cast a show over it.

Beijing has been embarrassed by the series of self-immolations by monks and activists in Tibet and Qinghai region in China to protest Beijing's policies towards Tibet.

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Photographs: PIB Photos

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India, China light up relations amidst Tibetan grief

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Tibetan activists have regularly staged protests, and courted arrest during the visits of senior leaders from China.

The protests have been aimed at embarrassing the visiting leader by holding up 'Free Tibet' banners; on one occasion an enterprising young Tibetan activist rappelled down from the roof of a hotel to unfurl a banner across the window of a room where a business function was being held.

Beijing has often held that the protests and demonstrations are political activity by Tibetans and a violation of India's assurances that Tibetans are not allowed to engage in political activities in India.

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Image: A Tibetan exile shouts slogans inside a car after being detained by police during a protest against the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India, near the venue for the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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India, China light up relations amidst Tibetan grief

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The Delhi Police went into an overdrive to ensure that there were no unseemly demonstrations by Tibetan activists to embarrass the visiting dignitary.

President Hu Jintao attracts greater ire of the Tibetan community for his role as the Communist Party chief in Tibet in 1989 when the Chinese authorities had used brutal force to quash a peaceful uprising of the Tibetans. 

At the plenary session, President Hu thanked his hosts for the "thoughtful arrangements" for their stay.

Addressing a press conference later in the day Lu Zhaohui, director general for Asian Affairs, said that the Chinese side was "appreciative of the effective and concrete measures taken by the Indian government for overcoming protests and ensuring a safe and smooth holding of the summit."

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Image: Tibetan exiles are detained by police during a protest against the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India, outside the hotel where Hu is staying, in New Delhi
Photographs: Reuters

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India, China light up relations amidst Tibetan grief

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In words, which are markedly different from the epithets Chinese leaders and spokesmen have been using in recent days, the Chinese official said they regretted and mourned the loss of innocent lives.

However, he went on to add that the Dalai Lama and "the so-called pro-independence activists were trying to glorify and instigate extremist positions".

"Such acts (self-immolations) were inconsistent with the tenets of Buddhism," he said.

President Hu is visiting India to attend the 4th BRICS summit in New Delhi. 

President Hu, whose term as chairperson of BRICS ended with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assuming the position at the 4th BRICS summit held in New Delhi on March 30, has been a strong votary of the forum. 

He had described the BRICS forum in an interview as "the defender and promoter of the interests of developing countries."

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Image: A Tibetan exile is detained by police during a protest against the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India, outside the hotel where Hu is staying, in New Delhi
Photographs: Reuters

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China considers the BRICS forum as a priority area for its foreign policy for it views the five emerging economies as the driving force in the present day global economy.

BRICS is an important forum for China as the leading economy among the BRICS countries, the forum helps it to project a larger global economic role for itself. Chinese President Hu Jintao emphasized its significance when he said that BRICS has an important role to play in South-South Cooperation as well as North-South cooperation.

Addressing the plenary session of the 4th BRICS summit in New Delhi, President Hu said that "China remained committed to consultations on an equal footing to deepen political trust through dialogue and should accommodate each other's concerns. We should remain good friends and good partners forever."

Where there was no consensus, the five countries should take incremental steps to build it, he added and seek to deepen and widen practical cooperation. The Chinese President's remarks could easily stand for Beijing's stance on its bilateral relationship with India.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the leaders of BRICS Summit
Photographs: PIB Photo

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