Chinese envoy asks journalist to shut up when questioned

New Delhi : A Chinese company Thursday signed a accord for investing $400 million in Gujarat, but a row erupted when China’s ambassador Zhang Yan asked an Indian journalist to “shut up” when he questioned the company’s brochure showing a map of India minus Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

India was prompt to take up the issue, with the Chinese envoy assuring that the mistake will be rectified.

TBEA, a Chinese heavy equipment company, inked a memorandum of understanding for investing around $400 million in two stages for manufacturing transformers in Gujarat.

The company is part of the business delegation Nur Bekri, governor of the Muslim-majority Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, has brought to India to explore two-way investment opportunities.

The brochure of the Chinese company, which was circulated at a business function, carried a map of India on its front page depicting Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Chinese territory and parts of Jammu and Kashmir as part of the Pakistan-administered Kashmir, evoking consternation among journalists.

When Chinese ambassador Zhang Yan was asked for his reaction, the envoy first said it’s “a technical issue”. However, when he continued to be pressed, he lost his cool and said “shut up”, triggering much outrage among the media there.

“We will handle this. We are working for friendlier ties with India…this will not help. We are handling this in a friendly way.” Zhang said he raised the issue with the company. “So what can I do for you?”

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory. The issue is part of boundary talks between India and China.

India and China will hold the 15th round of boundary talks in New Delhi November-end.

Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary in charge of China in the external affairs ministry, promptly took up the issue with the Chinese ambassador and conveyed his objections.

The envoy admitted that it was a mistake and he will have it rectified soon, reliable sources said.

The envoy also said that it was a private company and should not be seen as a reflection of the Chinese position.

Zhang, on his part, admitted that Bambawale brought up the issue, but declined to say anything more than that it was a technical issue.

“This is a technical issue. We handle these issues. Your joint secretary has mentioned and I have said that we will look into this.” “I have talked to our people. So, what can I do for you,” the Chinese diplomat told the journalist.

Zhang added that ” ‘shut up’ is not something that changes the nature of these things because we are handling this in a friendly way”.

Bekri, who began his four-day visit to India Thursday, has been invited by the Indian government under the India-China Distinguished Visitors’ Programme.

Speaking at a business meet organised by the CII, Bekri invited Indian companies to scale up two-way trade and investment.

He met Vice President Hamid Ansari, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai. Bekri will go to Agra Friday and to Mumbai Saturday, where he is expected to seek business and tourism linkages between his province and India.

The visit by regional leaders has become a trend of sorts in India-China relations and is aimed at promoting greater mutual understanding of each other’s trajectory of socio-economic development.

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