Year of friendship

Trying to overcome the perception of strained ties and mutual mistrust, Indian and Chinese leaders will flag off a yearlong celebration of friendship and cooperation when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday evening. The most eagerly awaited bilateral meeting between the two Asian leaders will end with them lighting a lamp to start the celebrations that are likely to include economic and cultural interaction, and exchanges throughout this year. Hu arrived on Wednesday evening, accompanied by foreign minister Yang Jiechi, special envoy Dai Bingguo and a host of senior business people. The government has also “counseled” Tibetan refugee groups to refrain from self-immolation bids in the national Capital during the BRICS summit because it diminishes the “Indian government, Prime Minister and the Indian people”. The communication was made to the Tibetan groups after Jamphel Yeshi, a Tibetan activist, set himself ablaze during a protest against the Chinese President’s visit. Yeshi died on Wednesday morning with 98% burns. Government representatives told Tibetan groups that setting themselves on fire in India would not achieve much more than embarrassing India — their host country —rather than China, their country of origin. Tibetans have been setting themselves alight in the Tibetan provinces of China for the past few months, an occurrence that has invited the wrath of Beijing.

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