India might not get to open a consulate in Lhasa if it wants but a number of other Chinese cities have expressed interest in having Indian consulates to mark up trade and travel between the two countries, national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon said on Tuesday.
Topping the list of Chinese cities with a keen interest in having an Indian consulate is Chongqing, city of over 30 million in southwest China and one of China’s four directly controlled municipalities after Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.
The issue of new Indian consulates was recently raised during foreign office consultations, Menon said.
He added that while India hasn’t made any official request to open a consulate in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, the Chinese have indicated that “they find Lhasa difficult” to be given access. Only Nepal has consular presence there.
“We have not asked for Lhasa officially. We are still at the stage of seeing what is possible,” Menon said.
On the issue Chinese cities asking for Indian consular presence, he said, “We have to actually sort it out amongst ourselves.. where we would like it. Chengdu is possible. Some Chinese cities are also interested. Chongqing has been vocal, they have made it known. We need to do a little homework and then see.”
The city of Chengdu is in Sichuan province which houses several Indian IT companies; Kunming in Yunnan province could also be a possibility. At present, India has consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Menon said that India was weighing “multiple choices” including Chengdu which is also closest to Tibet where countries like US have their Consulates.
Chongqing was recently in the news after its mayor and high-flying Communist Party of China (CPC) politician Bo Xilai was purged from the Party over a scandal murder and money.
Menon added that China too was looking to open more Consulates in India in addition to the ones in Kolkata and Mumbai besides main embassy in New Delhi.
According to earlier reports,Chinese officials had indicated Chennai as a choice because of the growing presence of Chinese companies in southern India.
When asked whether there was any dicussion on the issue of passports, Menon reiterated, "There was no discussions on passport issue. I don’t think it is [worth discussing] on my level. There is more to life than visas and passports.”