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China did not ‘summon’ envoy

delhi Updated: Apr 04, 2008 23:16 IST
Amit Baruah
Amit Baruah
Hindustan Times
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It's not as if Indian Ambassador to China, Nirupama Rao, was singled out for special treatment when the envoy went to the Chinese foreign ministry on Saturday night-Sunday morning.

Rao was among several ambassadors who were “called in”, not summoned, by the Chinese ministry. Official sources told HT that Rao was called at about 12.30 am and she actually went in at 1.30 am.

Rattled by the protests and clashes in Tibet, the Chinese foreign ministry was at pains to appreciate New Delhi's policies both on Tibet and towards Tibetan refugees living in India.

No protest was lodged with the Indian envoy; the Chinese merely sought continuity with New Delhi’s policies on Tibet and the Tibetan refugees living in the country.

Top Chinese officials at the meeting also raised the possibility of more demonstrations against the Chinese embassy and consulates. The meeting was essentially to explain the Chinese position.

According to the sources, several ambassadors had been called to the foreign ministry by the Chinese at odd hours - a signal that Beijing was in diplomatic overdrive. Time slots apparently were given both earlier and later than the meeting with Rao.

There’s little doubt that the Chinese would have seen the March 15 statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) suggesting that India was “distressed by reports of the unsettled situation and violence in Lhasa, and by the deaths of innocent people”.

“We would hope that all those involved will work to improve the situation and remove the causes of such trouble in Tibet, which is an autonomous region of China, through dialogue and non-violent means,” the statement added.

While the South Block view is that the Indian statement was “restrained”, India lashed out at the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) the very next day for giving a statement on “issues internal to India”.

CV Ranganathan, a former Indian ambassador to China, feels that the Indian statement would not have any bearing on the quality of bilateral relations.

“India has always abided by its policy on Tibet. India is not the base for the current protests,” Ranganathan told HT by telephone from Bangalore.