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China says no change in its Arunachal Pradesh policy

January 20, 2011

Economic Times 17 JAN, 2011, 03.19PM IST,PTI

BEIJING: China today said its policy that Arunachal Pradesh is a
"disputed area" remains "unchanged", days after it issued stapled visas
to two Indian sportsmen from the state which it claims as "Southern Tibet".

"China's position is consistent and clear about the China- India border
issue including the disputed area of Eastern section and the Indian side
is aware of it. The position has remained unchanged," the Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokesman's office told PTI here.

Eastern section of the India-China border covers the Arunachal sector
which is part of the dialogue mechanism to resolve it. India-China so
far held 14 rounds of talks without much of success.

The Foreign Ministry issued the clarification today to a question asked
last week over the controversy of issuing stapled visas to two Indian
sportsmen from Arunachal to take part in the Weightlifting Grand Prix at
Fujian province.

The two were turned away by the Indian immigration officials as India do
not recognise the stapled visas, while External Affairs Ministry stated
India will not honour such visas.

The Foreign Ministry, however, did not clarify whether the issuance of
stapled visas or paper visas as they are known meant any departure from
its purported previous policy of not to grant any visas to people of
Arunachal Pradesh in support of Chinese claim that the state is part of
its territory therefore its people did not need visas.

However Rong Ying, a Senior Research Fellow at the state-run China
Institute of International Studies, said while China's stand on the
dispute remained unchanged, perhaps the stapled visas were given as a
"pragmatic" step to allow people of Arunachal to visit China.

"Certainly we have to take the reality into consideration as it is a
disputed area and also we have to be pragmatic if people wants to travel
to China," Rong, an India specialist at the Institute told PTI.

He said personally he believes that the stapled visas were issued to
enable the people of the area to travel to China while the two countries
made efforts to resolve the boundary dispute.

Both sides have to be pragmatic keeping the reality into consideration,
he said, apparently meaning that India too should permit those with
stapled visas from Arunchal to travel to China.

"I think there is no shift in China's policy but it will be good to
facilitate their travel," he said, adding that otherwise the people of
the area cannot travel to China until the dispute is resolved.

Indian officials here say that it was difficult to say whether China
pursued a definite visa policy on Arunachal Pradesh as Vishal Nabam, now
advisor to Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, had visited China on a
month-long tourist visa in 2006 while an IAS officer from the state was
denied visa in 2007.

On the controversy over issuance of stapled visas to people of Jammu and
Kashmir, Rong said it was regarded as the technical issue.

During his recent India visit, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao promised to
address the issue.

Rong also denied that there was any shift in China's Kashmir policy as a
result of the stapled visa issue and Beijing continue to maintain that
India and Pakistan should resolve their outstanding disputes, including

"I agree with the argument that China's relations with India and
Pakistan are on a different footing," he said, adding there need not
necessarily be any "inter linkages".

"It is not a change. It has been for many years, perhaps since the end
of the cold war," he said.

China would continue its partnership with India which will not be at the
expense of Beijing's close ties with Islamabad.

Similarly, China's partnership with Pakistan was not aimed at India, he
said, refuting perception that it was a New Delhi centric alliance.

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