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New Delhi should be happy with Beijing’s decision to issue visas to members of a karate team from Arunachal Pradesh to enable them to participate in an event in China. It is a departure from the Chinese practice of issuing stapled visas to people from that state going to China. India protested against this practice a number of times. But China claims that a part of Arunachal belongs to its territory. The Chinese had also protested against the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang in 2009 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the state earlier. New Delhi paid no heed to these protests and objected to the practice of issuing stapled visas to people from Arunachal Pradesh and J&K. China obviously does it to provoke India and put pressure on it in bilateral talks. India’s attitude has been to ignore these pinpricks.
China is now showing a different attitude. It is understandable that it will not accept Arunachal Pradesh as part of India in the near future. It has its own reasons to continue the border dispute. It calls the disputed part of Arunachal Pradesh southern Tibet. There have been fourteen rounds of talks between representatives of India and China to settle the differences but nothing has come of it.
It betrays lack of trust. Too much significance should not be attached to the change in the visa policy. India considers Arunachal Pradesh to be an integral part of the country. The US has recognised it. So from Delhi’s point of view, there should be no dispute. There has been some progress in talks between the two countries in recent years. They are together on the climate issue and belong to BRICS. Historical or other prejudices should not cloud relations between the two giant neighbours. The accent should be on economic collaboration in an ambience of peace.