In the wake of Indian media reports that China had implicitly recognised Sikkim as a part of India, the Chinese government on Tuesday said that "Sikkim issue" cannot be resolved "overnight".
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan described Sikkim as "an enduring issue left over from history" and said, "We have to respect history".
"We have to take into consideration realistic factors," Kong said at his scheduled bi-weekly briefing attended by Indian journalists covering Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China.
In an agreement on border trade, India and China had on Monday decided to open trade routes through Sikkim and Tibet, prompting the media interpretation that this amounted to an implied recognition by Beijing that the North Eastern state was part of India, a fact China has refused to acknowledge even 28 years after Sikkim's merger with the Indian Union.
The agreement as well as a joint declaration are scheduled to be issued later on Tuesday, but Indian media had reported that the Indian government has, in these documents, acknowledged Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) as part of the People's Republic of China.
On Tibet, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said credit had to be given to Vajpayee and his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao for whatever was contained in the formulation on Tibet. The formulation on Tibet was "active and positive," he said.
However, he went on to add that India had admitted that TAR was an "inalienable" part of the territory of China. Other countries had also recognised Tibet as a part of China, the spokesman added.
On Pakistan, the spokesman said that the friendship between China and India was not directed against any third country.