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Words in the News
Wednesday 25 June 2003
India and China talk
Indian and Chinese leaders The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has signed an important agreement with Chinese leaders in Beijing. This will reopen a cross-border trade route through the politically sensitive and long-disputed territories of Sikkim and Tibet.
This report from Jill McGivering:
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The main thrust of Mr Vajpayee's trip to Beijing is to make progress on practical issues - with mutual trade and business at the top of the agenda. In the past, the tense, even hostile, relationship between the two countries has been an obstacle to progress on the ground. But this latest agreement is a major step forward and a good example of a new policy of putting emotive disagreements to one side and focusing instead on practicalities. The handling of the apparent concessions over Tibet and Sikkim seem to be a classic case of political fudge. The wording seemed veiled in secrecy - until newspapers in both countries seized on the issue and both declared political victory for their own leaders: Indian papers saying that China now recognised Sikkim as part of India and Chinese papers hailing India's apparent recognition of Tibet as part of China. Meanwhile officials on both sides are struggling to play down the political significance altogether and say their positions haven't actually changed. Indian officials still insist the Dalai Lama is welcome in India and there's no question of forcing him to leave. They want to throw the focus back on the practical trade gains made possible as a result of the opening of this geographically important route - and as far away as possible from their positions on disputed territory now making headlines.

Jill McGivering, BBC
Listen Listen to the words
the thrust of an activity or an idea is the main or essential thing it expresses
on the ground
when you talk about what is happening on the ground, you are talking about what is really happening in a situation, rather than what the people who are in control are thinking or saying
putting emotive disagreements to one side
keeping disagreements that may cause strong feelings separate from the present discussions
the practicalities of a situation are the aspects of it concerned with real events rather than with ideas or theories.
an apparent situation seems to exist, although you cannot be certain that it exists
a classic case
a typical example. A classic example of something has all the features that you expect that kind of thing to have.
avoidance of a clear or definite decision or statement
seized on
showed great interest in. If you seize on something you show great interest in it, often because it is useful to you.
to play down
if you play down a fact or feature, you try to make people think that it is not particularly important
to throw the focus back on
to direct attention back towards
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