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Last Updated: Friday, 7 December 2007, 14:39 GMT
Chinese 'border gesture' to India
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Indian guard in Arunachal Pradesh
Indian troops have a long-standing border dispute with China
China appears to have reversed its long-held policy of refusing to give visas to Indians from the disputed Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

It has now allowed a professor from the state - in the north-east of the country - to visit China.

Beijing has over much of the last four decades been claiming Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory.

During the 1962 war with India, Chinese troops overran large parts of the state, before withdrawing to Tibet.

Not recognised

It has emerged that this week the Chinese embassy in Delhi granted a visa to Marpe Sora, a professor in computer science at the Rajiv Gandhi university in Arunachal's capital, Itanagar.

Arunachal Pradesh map

Diplomats and analysts feel this gesture may be a prelude to China ultimately accepting Arunachal Pradesh as part of India.

China opposed the Indian takeover of the state of Sikkim in 1975, and did not recognise it to be Indian for more than 20 years.

Chinese maps now show Sikkim as a part of India, but much of Arunachal Pradesh is still shown to be part of China.

Mr Marpe Sora has already left for China with some other Indian professors for a programme conducted by the India-China Alliance Centre, officials said.

They said Mr Sora belongs to one of the local tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.

Officials say he will visit the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing and several other institutes as part of his trip.

Chinese soldier on border between Sikkim and Tibet
China appears to have accepted that Sikkim is part of India

Earlier this year, China refused a visa to Ganesh Koyu, an Arunachal Pradesh local and an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

Mr Koyu was part of a delegation of 100 IAS officers due to visit China.

China said that since they considered Arunachal Pradesh to be a part of China, Mr Koyu would not need a visa to visit his "own country".

Upset with Beijing's decision, the Indian government cancelled the trip of the entire IAS delegation.

In 1983, China refused to grant a visa to Arunachal Pradesh resident T Rajkumar, who was then speaker of the state's legislative assembly.

Earlier this month China agreed to withdraw its objections to the India-US nuclear deal after months of uncertainty triggered by its suspicions of the agreement.

The Chinese army has also decided to hold its first joint military exercise with the Indian army at Chengdu later this month, with a special focus on anti-terrorist drills.

SEE ALSO
Date set for Indo-China exercises
03 Dec 07 |  South Asia
India and China hold more talks
27 Jul 04 |  South Asia
China and India's mutual distrust
21 Apr 03 |  South Asia
India and China's public courting
13 Nov 03 |  South Asia
India and China's 'quiet pragmatism'
24 Jun 03 |  South Asia

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