Silk Route Awaits China Nod
[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 02/10/30; October 30, 2002.]
PEMA LEYDA SHANGDERPA Gangtok, Oct. 27: Union minister of state for home affairs, Vidya Sagar Rao today said the proposed trade route to China through the Nathula border check post could be opened if China recognised Sikkim as an integral part of India.
Speaking to reporters, Rao, who was here to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Governor V. Rama Rao, said the Centre was to yet to take any decision on this contentious issue.
Though the re-opening of the erstwhile silk route, between Tibet and India, via the Nathula had often come up in the past, it could not be implemented due to China's hardened stance on Sikkim.
The Himalayan hill state, which enjoys a strategic location, merged with the Indian union in 1975, raising Chinese hackles.
Till date, China has refused to recognise the 'merger', dubbing it annexation. Trade between Sikkim and Tibet ' now under Chinese occupation ' took place during the Chogyal's regime.
Over the years, despite the Centre's repeated efforts, a concrete decision is still awaited. Recently, chief minister Pawan Chamling has also shown keen interest on it.
Asked about the Karmapa controversy, the minister said the government was yet to take a decision whether to allow the 17th Karmapa Ugyen Thinley Dorjee to visit Rumtek, headquarters of the Karma Kagyu sect. The boy-monk had made a dramatic escape from the Tshurpu Monastery in south-central Tibet in January 2000.
Since then, the Centre has accorded a guest status to the Karmapa, who now lives at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. 'The decision to allow the Karmapa to visit Sikkim will be made after various aspects are taken into account,' the minister said.
Rao said Sikkim, a member of the Northeast Economic Council (NEC), would benefit from the government's latest plan to allocate funds for the modernisation of the states' police forces.
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