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"Sikkim will gain from China’s move"

Thursday 14 April 2005, by DAM*Marcus

KOLKATA, APRIL 12. "The Sikkim Government hopes that the Chinese decision to show the State to be a part of Indian territory in a new official map handed over to the Government of India yesterday will hasten the re-opening of the India-China trade route through Nathu La," B.B. Gooroong, Adviser to the Chief Minister, has said.

He told The Hindu over telephone from Gangtok today: "The State Government and the people at large have welcomed the Chinese official acknowledgement of Sikkim as an integral part of India. The State stands to benefit politically, economically and socially from this development."

China has recognised "Sikkim State" as part of the "Republic of India" nearly 30 years after the State was merged with India in May 1975.

The geographical status of the State had been a contentious issue between India and China for several years and Monday’s decision would remove minor irritants in bilateral relations,according to him.

Even long after Sikkim’s merger, the Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, had been insisting on the need for a "greater emotional integration of the people of the State into the national mainstream." "The Chinese Government’s ultimate inclusion of Sikkim in India’s map should only facilitate such an integration."

The Chinese and Indian Governments initiated talks three years ago on the re-opening of the Nathu La trade route, closed since the Sino-Indian war in 1962. The Sikkim Government has finalised a project envisaging the setting up of infrastructure required for resumption of trade through Nathu La.

The Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, visited the region earlier this month. The re-opening of the pass would also provide a boost to tourism and the State Government has proposed the introduction of a bus service between Gangtok and Lhasa through Nathu La, according to Mr. Gooroong.

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