June 2003 News

China To Talk Kashmir Peace With Pak

10 June 2003
The Indian Express

New Delhi: China will use its influence over its 'all-weather friend' Pakistan to 'find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir problem', while India should in turn rather 'look at the efforts' Beijing is making in this regard, senior Chinese officials have said. On the eve of Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee's visit to China from June 22-27, the first by an Indian PM in 10 years, Chinese officials told journalists here that both sides should not allow 'any historical baggage to impact the future of the relationship,' but create the climate for the settlement of old issues. Vajpayee will go to Beijing, Luoyang and Shanghai. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the visit would see the strengthening of confidence-building measures (CBMs) relating to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which would be more detailed than those delineated in the bilateral agreements of 1993 and 1996. In addition, there would be agreements on investment and protection of trade, on the exchange of information on science and oceanic matters as well as visa processing to promote tourism to both countries. The Chinese officials pointed out that both sides should create a 'conducive climate' so that there could be progress on the clarification of the LAC, the exchange of maps, a speedier settlement of the border issue and Sikkim among other things. Refreshingly frank at times and reticent at others, Chinese officials pointed out that the bane of the Sino-Indian relationship was a lack of trust: 'Mistrust is the main problem at the moment...We have to understand that China is not a rival but a good partner.' On China's relations with Pakistan, they pointed out that Islamabad has 'stood by us in our bad times'. Then they denied reports of the strategic transfer of military hardware to Pakistan, insisting that these were often the figment of the imagination of the international media and perhaps even the CIA. Significantly, they added: 'The China- Pakistan factor should not be an obstacle in the China-India relationship...We want to upgrade our relations with India and we are working harder on this friendship.' Then, bringing the weight of the impending visit to bear upon their comments, the officials added: 'In fact, we would like both India and Pakistan to reconcile themselves and talk to each other. We will exercise our influence over Pakistan to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir problem. And India should look at the efforts we are making.' Asked why Sikkim was an issue, since it was an integral part of India, the officials pointed out that China had taken a very strong position on Sikkim's 'annexation' to India in 1975 and still considered it an 'independent kingdom'. Indian sources, meanwhile, debunked the idea that there was going to be any discussions on Sikkim during the PM's visit. They pointed out that China was the only country that had still refused to recognise Sikkim as part of India. On Chinese support for a UN Security Council seat for India, the officials agreed that Beijing had kept very quiet on this matter. But they insisted that 'it was a misunderstanding' that China did not back India on this issue. 'India is recognised as a big country in the world and China wants to see a developed and prosperous India,' the officials added.


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