Beijing has rejected New Delhi’s request to allow India to open a consulate in Lhasa, the administrative capital of Tibet.
India’s request, first reported by HT, was in response to China’s desire to have a consulate in Chennai.
Instead, Beijing has indicated that Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, could be an alternative location.
Chengdu is a key economic centre of western China and a consulate here would help the ever-expanding trade ties between the two countries. There are many Indian companies operating out of Chengdu.
However, the Indian side is not willing to settle for anything other than Lhasa, with officials noting that the “Chinese would naturally place Chengdu, or even Kunming before us”.
“We have asked for the re-opening for the consulate in Lhasa. It’s given to our understanding that Beijing is not keen on having any more mission in Lhasa or in any part of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The issue of opening of new consulates in each other’s country is a matter of continuing discussion,” said an official familiar with the development.
According to diplomatic sources familiar with the developments, the Chinese don’t want more consulates in Lhasa, where only Nepal has one.
The Chinese side is wary because of a series of self-immolations in support of Tibet’s right to self-determination. These, Beijing says, were done at the behest of Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese look upon as a “splitist.”
The US has also been angling for a consulate in Lhasa. The consulates that come under the Indian embassy include Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shanghai.