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Arunachal PradeshDisputed, Policy ‘˜Unchanged’: China

BEIJING, Jan 17: China Monday 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 reporters 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 recognize the stapled visas, while External Affairs Ministry stated India will not honor 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 Pradesh 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 want to travel to China,” Rong, an India specialist at the Institute told reporters.

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 Pradesh 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 Arunachal Pradesh cannot travel to China until the dispute is resolved.

(Courtesy: Press Trust of India)

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