NEW DELHI -- Seeking to placate longtime rival China, India has subtly shifted its stand on Tibet in a way to clearly recognize the Chinese annexation of "the roof of the world," delighting Beijing but raising questions about New Delhi's diplomatic game-plan and spurring concern among Tibetan exiles.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made one-sided bargains in Beijing recently to showcase as a success a visit that would probably be his last major foreign tour before he gets absorbed in state and national elections at home. The Chinese leadership ably exploited Vajpayee's desire for a successful visit to extract concessions that present India as willing to accept a secondary role in a China-dominated Asia.

In Beijing, Vajpayee appeared less like the leader of a nuclear-armed India determined to engage China on equal terms and more like a tribute-payer to the fabled Middle Kingdom. While all the effusive statements and concessions came from the Indian side, the Chinese gave no ground and spoke in measured terms on Sino-Indian relations, clearly dominating the outcome.