Forty Years Ago, February 22, 1979: Atal’s China Trip

Forty Years Ago, February 22, 1979: Atal’s China Trip

The Indian Express' front page on February 22, 1979

The Indian Express’ front page on February 22, 1979

The external affairs minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said his talks with Chinese leaders had “unfrozen” the border issue which has bedevilled relations between India and China for 19 years. Reporting to Parliament on the outcome of his China visit and his meeting in Peking with the Chinese premier, Hua Guofeng, vice-premier Deng Xiaoping and the foreign minister, Huang Hua, he said it was “not insignificant “that both governments had agreed on “the need to reflect further on the possible ways to resolve this crucial border question”. In an eight-page statement, Vajpayee said he had made it clear “the unresolved boundary question must be satisfactorily settled if relations of mutual confidence are to be established”. These exploratory contacts had “at least unfrozen the issue,” he added.

Iran Referendum

Iran’s new government announced it will hold a national referendum in 15 days on the issue of formally changing the nation from monarchy to an Islamic republic. The government statement said the single question on the ballot would be “do you favour an Islamic republic?” A “yes” vote in the referendum would provide legitimacy for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolution against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Indo-china On Boil

Vietnam rushed reinforcements to the border city of Lang Son while China deployed three divisions and tank units 80 km east of the city, intelligence sources in Bangkok said. Several thousand heavily armed Vietnamese regular and regional troops were advancing toward Chinese positions at Lang Son, near the China-Vietnam border, a Bangkok datelined report in the Tokyo newspaper Asahi said. The Chinese has captured Lao Cai, northwest Vietnam’s major communications and railway centre on the Red River. The invaders were said to be 16-20 kilometres inside Vietnamese territory, and each side claimed inflicting thousands of casualties.