Beijing, Oct. 9 (PTI): China today declined to publicly recognise Sikkim as part of India, but hoped the issue would be resolved “gradually”. Late on Tuesday night, Chinese officials informed India that their foreign ministry website had stopped showing Sikkim as a separate country.
Today, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said: “On the question of Sikkim, this is an issue left over from history. On this issue, we must respect historical facts and at the same time take into account the present circumstances.
“We hope the Sikkim question will be gradually solved.”
She did not comment on whether the change ahead of Premier Wen Jiabao’s meeting with Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee in Bali yesterday could be considered a tacit acknowledgement of India’s sovereignty over Sikkim.
China’s official media did not report the deletion, signalling a major change in the country’s policy towards India.
Zhang commented positively on yesterday’s meeting between Vajpayee and Wen, the second in less than four months after the Indian Prime Minister visited China in June.
“The meeting was held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere,” said Zhang, who was present at the meeting on the sidelines of the just-concluded Asean summit in Indonesia.
Both sides expressed satisfaction over the development of bilateral relations at the meeting, she said, adding that Vajpayee particularly mentioned the warm reception accorded to him by the Chinese people during his visit.
“The Indian Prime Minister maintained that his visit to China in June was successful,” she quoted Vajpayee as telling Wen.
She said China, too, holds that Vajpayee’s visit and the joint declaration on principles guiding Sino-Indian relations and on all-round cooperation signed by the two countries during the visit marked a “new stage” of development in friendly relations. “We hope bilateral ties will be further developed smoothly,” she said.
Both prime ministers, according to Zhang, stressed that further development of Sino-Indian relations is not only conducive to the interests of the neighbours, but also beneficial to the region and the world at large.
She said both sides also expressed willingness to deepen their mutually beneficial cooperation and solve the existing problems through friendly dialogues and negotiations.