This time the Chinese have lost face – Deccan Chronicle

Indian diplomat assaulted in China.In recent decades the Chinese Communists have acquired a reputation for building economic and military power but depleted the goodwill that comes from being an ancient civilisation. In June 1967, two Indian diplomats — K. Raghunath, later our foreign secretary, and P. Vijai — were subjected to harsh treatment, just short of physical torture, by rampaging mobs before being sent home as spies, with the foreign office in Peking (now Beijing) washing its hands of the affair, saying it was between the embassy and the civic authorities. If the Vienna Convention that demands safety and protection of diplomatic personnel was upended, the revolutionary zealots were simply not concerned. The country was then in the throes of the infamous Cultural Revolution. Perhaps that can be cited as extenuating circumstances for the disgraceful episode. Evidently, the Chinese authorities and their justice systems has not changed their ways, although Beijing is now deemed a leading world player and expected to make its conduct more mainstream, more in line with established norms and protocols. What else can explain the denial of food and medicine last week — despite repeated requests — to Indian diplomat S. Balachandran, a diabetes patient, who was attending commercial dispute proceedings in Yiwu city near Shanghai, causing the diplomatic officer to faint and collapse? Fortunately the condition of the official in question is reported to be stable, but the Zhang Yue: Deputy Chief of Mission, New Delhimatter could well have taken a tragic turn. While India has lodged a strong protest, the response of the Chinese deputy chief of mission in New Delhi, Zhang Yue, to the regrettable episode is revealing. Mr Zhang said the matter seemed to be a “civic-commercial dispute” and offered: “We would do our best to handle this properly.” There is no effort to make amends here. Indeed, the response is not dissimilar from the shrugging of the shoulders back in 1967 as the foreign office in the Chinese capital abdicated its responsibility of protecting Indian diplomats. Mr Balachandran was appearing in the court in a consular capacity to safeguard the interests of two Indian nationals, who were subordinate staff in a Yemenese company whose proprietor had fled without paying its Chinese creditors. The creditors abducted the hapless Indians, allegedly tortured them and made them eat human excreta. The local officials apparently made no effort to prevent such shocking treatment. It would be hateful if any nation reciprocated to such insults in a like manner. However, the Chinese cannot expect India — or indeed others — to be solicitous of their concerns, given the depths to which they can sink, bypassing basic norms of civilisation and culture. – Deccan Chronicle, Jan. 4, 2012

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