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HVK Archives: Bill Clinton invests China with role in Indian sub-continent

Bill Clinton invests China with role in Indian sub-continent - The Times of India

Ramesh Chandran ()
June 13, 1998

Title: Bill Clinton invests China with role in Indian sub-continent
Author: Ramesh Chandran
Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 13, 1998

Having been savaged by his political opponents in the US
Congress over his controversial China policy, President Bill
Clinton's defence of his "Policy of Engagement" with Beijing is
likely to pries open a fresh can of worms - thanks to his remarks
on China's potential role in the Indian subcontinent.

Referring to Kashmir, Mr Clinton's suggestion that because of its
history with both India and Pakistan, "China must be a part of the
ultimate resolution of this matter" is bound to make
sub-continental analysts scramble to unravel any hidden
agenda.

Did the U.S. President now seek to invest China with a role
directly in Kashmir or was it a broader role in sub-continental
matters? Some South Asia analysts seem to suggest that not
too much ought to be seen in the President's remarks.

He was simply amplifying ".hat the state department and White
House officials have been maintaining all along that China had
a role to play in the region. Spokespersons and other officials
here have been repeatedly pressed by Indian correspondents
to comment on the irony of China presiding over the P-4
Geneva meeting and solicitously expressing anxiety over the
"deteriorating security situation in the Indian sub- continent"
when China is squarely part of the problem.

Mr Clinton's administration sources have however argued that
China given its long-standing relations with Pakistan and its
long borders with India had a role in the region. On its enduring
military ties with Islamabad and its regular transfers of missiles
and nuclear technology to Pakistan, officials here usually have
a pat response,

"We have raised this with authorities in Beijing and have been
assured by them that China would refrain from exporting
prohibited technology to countries like Iran or Pakistan." They
have also argued in recent weeks as the President's
controversy evoking state visit to China edges closer that he
will raise this issue - as well as others like human rights violation
with his Chinese interlocutors.

Assistant secretary of state Karl F. Inderfurth, in his first
on-the-record briefing to South Asian journalists after the
nuclear tests had said earlier this week, "The United States is
not giving China a role in the sub- continent. China is a
neighbour in the sub-continent. We have nothing to do with
geography".

He had also pointed out that China chairing the P-5 was due to
the rotational arrangement that existed amongst the elite
nuclear club and maintained that Washington believed that
China would be key to addressing the security concerns of the
sub-continent.

However, Mr Inderfurth had emphatically stated that neither the
U.S. nor any other country wished to "mediate" on the Kashmir
dispute and the international community was only standing by to
"assist" India and Pakistan to resume their bilateral dialogue to
resolve this dispute.

Which is why it is somewhat odd that Mr Clinton ought to make
this hint, in such a cavalier fashion, that China may have a role
to play in the Kashmir dispute. A point that would invite an
immediate rejection from the Indian government

In fact, deputy chairman of the planning commission Jaswant
Singh, who has had a gurelling schedule in New York speaking.
before select audiences had bluntly said "Kashmir is a bilateral
matter" between India and Pakistan adding that New Delhi was
ready to talk to Islamabad.


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