Hindu Vivek Kendra
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Stop the Heckling

Stop the Heckling

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Times of India
Date: February 15, 2008
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Stop_the_Heckling/articleshow/2771803.cms

It is not surprising that China had unhappy words to say about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh. After all, the Chinese are master hecklers, shooting off statements meant to rile India even as they engage in formal talks to supposedly resolve the boundary dispute.

Provocations from Beijing are routine. For instance, recall how it refused to grant a visa to an IAS officer from Arunachal Pradesh last year because he was a 'citizen of China' by virtue of being from the state and, therefore, did not need a visa.

This time, though the protest is not in the form of an official note from Beijing - a junior Chinese diplomat lodged it with the Indian embassy in China - the intention is the same. To needle New Delhi.

We welcome New Delhi's sharp reply to Beijing that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and the prime minister has every right to visit any sovereign part of this country. Singh's visit was significant.

He was the first prime minister to visit the state in 12 years. It was important because there is a lingering notion among the people of Arunachal Pradesh that New Delhi does not care as much about their state or their concerns as it should.

It is a grievance that is not completely unfounded and is shared by other states in the north-east. Addressing this discontent is an urgent task for the central and state governments. Otherwise, statements like the one the PM made during his visit - Arunachal Pradesh as India's land of the rising sun - will ring hollow.

In the past we have advised New Delhi to not get worked up about Beijing's rhetoric. However, it is now time for Beijing to be dignified. It does not augur well for the efforts both countries are making to resolve the border dispute and generally foster better bilateral ties if China speaks in two voices.

If it is committed to an official dialogue with India, it cannot lodge protests every now and then from the sidelines. After decades of frosty relations, bilateral relations appear to be making some headway. Singh's recent trip to China went off better than expected and India genuinely wants better relations with its neighbour.

New Delhi does not make unwarranted statements about Taiwan or Tibet. Beijing should take note of the diplomatic courtesy accorded to it by New Delhi and reciprocate. After all, Pakistan does not officially protest when an Indian prime minister visits Kashmir, does it?

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