China may seek India's help in solving Tibet issue

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11 Jan 2008

BEIJING: The Tibet issue is expected to figure in the discussions between officials accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and their Chinese counterparts during Singh's visit to Beijing beginning Sunday. The Chinese government might also try to find out if India would help it to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama, sources said.

"We regard the Tibetans living in India as a major challenge because they have the potential to cause trouble and draw world attention. We expect support from the Indian government to tackle them," a senior member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference told TNN.

There is also some apprehension that the Indian government might try to rake up the Tibet issue, which has been generally regarded as a "settled issue" since the visit of Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister to Beijing in 2003. But the Chinese are still wary about India's stand on the issue.

The apprehension in Beijing was evident in the recent statement by Jiang Yu, spokesperson of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs, expressing the hope that India will adhere to its commitment on the Tibet issue. He was obviously referring to speculation in certain circles that India might use the Tibet issue as a bargaining chip in dealing with the Chinese claims on the whole of Arunachal Pradesh.

"I do not think India will change its position on Tibet. It is a very sensitive issue for China as much as Kashmir is a sensitive issue for India. The 2003 agreement that took place during Vajpayee's visit is one of the pillars of India-China relationship," Sun Shihai, a senior researcher at the Institute of Asia Pacific Studies in the state-run think-tank, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told TNN.

The Indian government said during the visit that it recognised the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) as "part of China". India also agreed not to allow "anti-China activities" organized by Tibetans in India. TAR is a much larger area than the province of Tibet and consists of areas from three other provinces besides Tibet.

"Dalai Lama got a lot of receptions from governments in the United States, Germany and other countries in 2007. It is worrying us no end. We are hoping the Indian government could help us deal with his growing influence in some way. One possible way is a positive statement from Prime Minister Singh on the Tibet issue," the CPPCC member said.

China would appreciate if Singh improved on Vajpayee's statement and specifically say that Tibet was a part of China instead of referring to the larger entity called TAR, he said. Such a statement would effectively weaken the campaign of the Dalai Lama, he said.