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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

After war of words, India seeks to douse the flames

October 18, 2009

Seema Guha
DNA India (Daily News & Analysis)
October 17, 2009

New Delhi -- India and China are seeking to put
the sabre-rattling of the past few days behind
then. Prime minister Manmohan Singh and premier
Wen Jiabao of China are due to meet in Thailand
where both sides will reiterate their respective
commitment to work for a peaceful and negotiated
settlement of the border issue.

This will be followed by a visit of China's
foreign minister to Bangalore for an
India-Russia-China trilateral summit hosted by
external affairs minister V Krishna. Despite the
heated exchange between the two countries
following the prime minister's visit to Arunachal
Pradesh, neither country is keen to deviate from
the political understanding reached at the highest level.

This will be re-emphasised when Singh and Wen
meet on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit next
week, either on October 23 or 24. Despite the
desire to downplay the recent exchange of words,
New Delhi's new policy vis-a-vis Beijing is to give back as good as it gets.

The latest round began after Beijing objected to
the prime minsiter's visit to Arunachal Pradesh
for an election campaign. Then, India upped the
ante asking China to desist from carrying out
projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, saying PoK
was a part of Jammu and Kashmir.

But on Friday, in a bid to cool down tempers, the
external affairs ministry said that "independent
observers" have verified that there is no
evidence to suggest that a dam is being
constructed on the Tsangpo (the name of the
Brahmaputra in China), as was earlier feared by India.

"If China has a run of the river project on their
side of the river, we cannot object," a senior
Indian official said. Every country is allowed to
construct projects that do not divert the flow of water.

Government sources also pointed out that China's
position on Arunachal as a "disputed" territory
has been consistent. Beijing had objected, in
1982, when the Arunachal Pradesh contingent
marched with the Indian flag at the Asian Games
in New Delhi, and in 1986 when Arunachal Pradesh
was made a state (prior to that, it was a Union Territory).

Thus, India's statement against the building of
dams in PoK was simply to drive home the point
that if Arunachal's status can be contested, so
can PoK's. New Delhi's decision to allow Tibet's
spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to visit
Tawang, Bomdila and Itanagar in Arunachal from
November 8 to 15 is also to send a message to
Beijing that the Tibetan leader is free to travel to any part of India.

In an interview to All India Radio, which was
broadcast on Thursday, foreign secretary Nirupama
Rao sought to downplay the current tension with China.

"Look at the number of issues on which we are
cooperating, whether it is the Doha development
round, climate change issues, cooperation in
multilateral fora, reform of the international
financial system in the wake of the global
economic crisis..." she said, adding, "There are
many other issues in the relationship where we
have common ground and where there is a meeting
of minds. So I think we must look at this whole
relationship in the larger perspective."
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