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29 May

China Never Claimed Sikkim

I read with interest that Ms. Shobha Tsering Bhalla made a claim in her article “Refugee Tragedy in the Making” (Today, May 16, 2005) that Beijing “until 2003, also claimed Sikkim”, a de facto state of India.

This is not the first time I heard such story.  One month ago a good friend from Sikkim also told me that, he and his friends from all over India had been told since childhood that China wants Sikkim, claiming it to be part of China.

This is, however, not true.  I checked two Chinese maps at hand, one published in 2000, another in 1992, as well as a Chinese magazine published in 1960s.  In all of them Sikkim is marked as an independent country.

The truth is: to India’s irritation, China insisted Sikkim’s sovereignty, as well as it does to other Himalayan nations such as Nepal and Bhutan.  China never recognized Sikkim’s referendum in 1975, during which Sikkim citizens, a majority of them being recent immigrants, voted that Sikkim would become a state of India.  It was not until the end of 2003 that China took Sikkim off the list of independent countries from the website of its Foreign Affairs Ministry.

It is comprehensible why the aforementioned rumor was made among Indians against China, essentially a defender of Sikkim’s sovereignty for decades.

It would be highly appreciated if Ms. Bhalla would provide readers with, other than Indian propaganda, proof that China government ever claimed its sovereignty over Sikkim.

Wang Zai-Tian

The Philharmonic Choral Society, Singapore

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