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Jaya Pradeep asked: How should India deal between the official “one-China” stance and the unofficial recognition to Tibet? What factors should be considered?

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  • Jagannath P. Panda replies: India’s “one-China stance” and “unofficial recognition of Tibet” are two different issues. In my opinion, they should not at all be linked together. The “one-China” stance is a political and diplomatic issue, used generally in the context of China’s “Taiwan” problem. But in the context of rising complexity in the Sino-Indian relations over the boundary and the Tibet issue, the “one-China” stance could be an ideal handle for building pressure on China if India decides to take a bold step in order to counter the Chinese stance in the bordering regions over various issues. In fact, India’s official recognition of Tibet as an “integral part of China” should seriously be revisited, considering that China has not taken a clear and public political stance about Jammu and Kashmir being an “integral part of India”.

    In my view, India must bring China around to take a clear and decisive public stance on three issues: Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Though China has taken an open stance once in a while in recognising Sikkim as a part of India, there is no guarantee that China will not revisit its stance on Sikkim in future. Beijing’s recent posture over Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh has also been problematic. If China does not take an open and public stance on these three issues vital for India in consonance with India’s unambiguously stated positions, then India must seriously revise its Tibet policy, and de-recognise Tibet as an “integral” part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This also becomes more relevant when bordering issues like water dispute, Chinese construction work in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) and the problem in handling the Tibetan refugees effectively have emerged as new additions to the existing border complexity between the two countries.

    I believe that India should consider two immediate factors. First, building diplomatic pressure on China to take a clear public stance on issues vital to India and its territorial integrity; second, a clear message should be conveyed to China that it needs to appreciate India’s democratic values with regard to the Tibetan refugees and the Dalai Lama. Under no circumstances should India henceforth take a public stance recognising Tibet as an “integral part of China”, unless China clarifies its position publicly and clearly on Arunachal Pradesh at least. This is important when there is a leadership transition taking place in China in 2012-13. Besides, it is high time that India seriously utilised the presence, services and the human resource of the 100,000 odd Tibetan refugees who have been living within its territory for decades.