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India-China resume border talks; Tibetans cry foul
Phayul[Monday, January 16, 2012 23:30]
National security advisor Shivshankar Menon(R) greets Chinese state councillor Dai Bingguo in New Delhi. (Photo/HT/Sunil Saxena)
National security advisor Shivshankar Menon(R) greets Chinese state councillor Dai Bingguo in New Delhi. (Photo/HT/Sunil Saxena)
DHARAMSHALA, January 16: India and China resumed their long drawn out border talks Monday in the Indian capital New Delhi after it hit a roadblock late last year.

The 15th round of special border talks scheduled in November had to be cancelled after China demanded India scrap an international religious gathering where the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama was to give a valedictory speech.

More diplomatic hurdles stemmed recently when China denied visa to an Indian military officer who was a member of the Indian military delegation to China, on grounds that he was from Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian state claimed by China. India reacted by scaling down its delegation by half to 15.

Arriving Sunday for the two day border talks, China’s State Councilor and special representative Dai Bingguo tried to set out a conciliatory tone in an article published in an Indian daily.

"While working hard to develop itself, China is fully committed to developing long-term friendship and cooperation with India," Dai wrote in The Hindu newspaper on Monday.

"There does not exist such a thing as China's attempt to 'attack India' or 'suppress India's development'," he added.

However, Tibetans, who have historically shared a peaceful border with India for centuries, expressed their reservations about the Sino-Indian endeavours.

"The so-called border between India and China came into existence in 1959, only after the invading Chinese army occupied Tibet,” Tsering a Tibetan college student in New Delhi told Phayul. “We, Tibetans would like to once again remind both India and China that any talk on the Indo-Tibet border without Tibet’s participation is illegal and a farce.”

In an article on the ongoing talks, C Raja Mohan, senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, Delhi, pointed out that the territorial dispute between India and China is “inextricably intertwined with the Tibet question.”

“While there are profound sensitivities on the issue, Delhi and Beijing understand that the territorial dispute is inextricably intertwined with the Tibet question,” Raja wrote in the Indian Express Monday.

“Opening a quiet Sino-Indian conversation on Tibet and expanding positive engagement on the Tibetan frontier, then, makes practical sense for Delhi and Beijing,” he added.

India and China occupied Tibet share a 3488 km long disputed border which was the cause of a short but bloody war in 1962. Since then, the two Asian giants have shared uneasy military ties with a series of border talks failing to yield much result.

The 15th round of the cross-border talks will last two days and is expected to cover a range of long-standing territorial disputes and other issues. The last talks were held in Beijing in November 2010.
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