‘China should understand democratic realities of India’
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Last Updated: Monday, November 09, 2009, 08:58
‘China should understand democratic realities of India’ The visit of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh has raised eyebrows in China at a time when New Delhi and Beijing are at odds over many other issues.

China has strongly opposed the week-long visit of India’s “honoured guest”, whereas the US has backed New Delhi in supporting the trip.

In an exclusive interview with Kamna Arora of Zeenews.com, Jagannath P Panda, an expert on Chinese affairs, discusses the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh and its repercussions on the Sino-India ties.

Jagannath P Panda is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.
Kamna: Has India taken the right step in allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh despite China’s objection?

Panda: To my mind, India has done the right thing. Sovereign, democratic countries should not come under any pressure. In addition, a power like China should understand the democratic realities of India and differentiate between politics and religion. China should also accept the reality that putting indirect pressure like this by opposing the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh will only hamper bilateral relations with India, nothing else.

Kamna: How will the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh affect India-China ties?

Panda: If we see from the Chinese perspective, the Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit would temporarily affect Sino-Indian relations. But then, these are the temporary setbacks in relations, which both countries should learn to live with. On long-term basis, I don`t think it’s such a huge issue which will hamper relations between the two countries.
Kamna: Can India play the Dalai Lama card to keep China at bay?

Panda: I don`t think it would be wise for India to play any "card" with China. India has failed to capitalise on the Tibetan issue on historical account, so nothing much can be done. What India should do in my opinion is that we should prepare a definite and resolute "China policy". Our China policy should be very rigid and should not be based on any pressure tactics approach.

Kamna: India and China have been failing to resolve their border dispute despite some efforts. What will be the implications of this dispute for India in the wake of increased Taliban threat on the other side of the border?

Panda: It is a reality that both China and India have failed to solve the border dispute. Also, it is unlikely that both countries are going to solve it in the immediate future. Therefore, what we should do is that we should keep on developing our infrastructure in the border areas, so that we could be safe from the external aggression. The Taliban remain a grave concern, and adequate importance should be given to handle the cross-border extremist elements, be it from any part or direction of India.
Kamna: Is China more pro-active or India more passive in building diplomatic ties with Asian, African and Latin American countries?

Panda: I would say that China is more active and systematic in its diplomatic actions and policy. The difference between India and China is the difference of taking a "decision" or the "decision-making process". China`s single party rule helps it to arrive at a conclusion quickly and take uniform decisions on many counts.

First Published: Monday, November 09, 2009, 08:58

(The views expressed by the author are personal)
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