Sunday, January 13, 2008
Chinese 'border gesture' to India
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta 7 Dec 2007
China appears to have reversed its long-held policy of refusing to give visas to Indians from the disputed Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
It has now allowed a professor from the state - in the north-east of the country - to visit China.
Beijing has over much of the last four decades been claiming Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory.
During the 1962 war with India, Chinese troops overran large parts of the state, before withdrawing to Tibet.
It has emerged that this week the Chinese embassy in Delhi granted a visa to Marpe Sora, a professor in computer science at the Rajiv Gandhi university in Arunachal's capital, Itanagar.
Diplomats and analysts feel this gesture may be a prelude to China ultimately accepting Arunachal Pradesh as part of India.
China opposed the Indian takeover of the state of Sikkim in 1975, and did not recognise it to be Indian for more than 20 years.
Chinese maps now show Sikkim as a part of India, but much of Arunachal Pradesh is still shown to be part of China.
Mr Marpe Sora has already left for China with some other Indian professors for a programme conducted by the India-China Alliance Centre, officials said.
They said Mr Sora belongs to one of the local tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.
Officials say he will visit the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing and several other institutes as part of his trip.
Earlier this year, China refused a visa to Ganesh Koyu, an Arunachal Pradesh local and an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
Mr Koyu was part of a delegation of 100 IAS officers due to visit China.
China said that since they considered Arunachal Pradesh to be a part of China, Mr Koyu would not need a visa to visit his "own country".
Upset with Beijing's decision, the Indian government cancelled the trip of the entire IAS delegation.
In 1983, China refused to grant a visa to Arunachal Pradesh resident T Rajkumar, who was then speaker of the state's legislative assembly.
Earlier this month China agreed to withdraw its objections to the India-US nuclear deal after months of uncertainty triggered by its suspicions of the agreement.
The Chinese army has also decided to hold its first joint military exercise with the Indian army at Chengdu later this month, with a special focus on anti-terrorist drills.