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China softens stance further on Sikkim
Anil K Joseph in Beijing | May 31, 2004 21:05 IST
Last Updated: May 31, 2004 21:14 IST
China took another significant step Monday to recognise Sikkim as part of India, when its foreign ministry's year book this year omitted the description of the north-eastern state as an independent country.
China's Foreign Affairs (2004 edition), released by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at a ceremony in at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing did not describe Sikkim as a separate country, in tune with the promise Beijing had made to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his visit to China last June.
In October 2003, the foreign ministry took the first step, removing the old description of Sikkim from its web page ahead of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao's meeting with Vajpayee in Bali, Indonesia. Till then, the Chinese foreign ministry website had ignored Sikkim's accession to India in 1975.
Earlier this month, the World Affairs Press under the Chinese foreign ministry published the World Affairs Year Book 2003/2004, which for the first time stopped showing Sikkim as a separate country.
While the 2002-2003 edition of the World Affairs Yearbook's world map showed Sikkim as a separate country, the 2003-2004 edition did not mention Sikkim at all, implying that China has quietly recognised India's sovereignty over Sikkim.
Publicly, China still maintains that the "Sikkim issue" could be solved "gradually", a view reiterated by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, commenting on the deletion of Sikkim from the new world map in the World Affairs Press Year Book.
"The question of Sikkim is one left over from history between China and India. We must respect history and take reality into consideration to address the issue," he said.
"We hope that with the constant improvement of ties between China and India, the question will be solved gradually," the spokesperson had said.