In an implicit recognition of Sikkim being a part of India, China on Monday agreed to have border trade through the Northeastern state while India, in a careful formulation, recognised the autonomous region of Tibet as part of Chinese territory, with both sides seeing these developments as a significant achievement.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao, after lengthy talks on Monday addressed the long-standing bilateral irritant of Sikkim, which China had so far refused to accept as part of Indian territory.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) on expanding border trade provides for trade through routes that go through Sikkim.
In the first-ever joint declaration signed between the two countries, which will be made public on Tuesday, India is understood to have recognised the Tibetan autonomous region as part of the territory of the People's Republic of China, thereby indicating that certain other parts of Tibet beyond the autonomous region such as Aksai Chin, which India lays claim to, are treated differently.
The MoU on border trade was signed by External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha and Chinese Commerce Minister Hu Fuyan.