Mamata Banerjee cancels China trip

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI file photo

The delicate India-China relations witnessed a fresh irritant on Friday with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee canceling her week-long trip to China because Beijing “couldn't confirm the political meetings at the appropriate level.”

“Though the Indian ambassador tried his best to make the programme a success, non-confirmation of the political meetings at the appropriate level as proposed by the Indian ambassador has unfortunately compelled us to cancel the visit,” Mamata said in a statement.

The Ministry of External Affairs didn't make any official comment on the last minute cancellation of the trip as Mamata was to leave for Beijing on Friday night.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is out of the country at the moment, and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale has been informed about the decision.

“Till Thursday, everything was going on well, but unfortunately the Chinese side couldn't confirm the political meetings at the appropriate level as informed by our ambassador in China. Our ambassador requested time till Friday 12.00 noon (Chinese time 2.20 pm) for a confirmation to the political meeting,” she said.

“It has now been intimated by our ambassador in China that the political meetings at the appropriate level couldn't be confirmed and therefore the purpose of my visit with a delegation to China is of no use,” Mamata noted.

West Bengal Chief Minister said in March that Sushma Swaraj suggested her to consider leading a delegation to China under the government's exchange programme with the international department of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Mamata said, “I mentioned to her that since the interest of my country is involved, I wish to visit China sometime during last week of June 2018.” Subsequently, the two sides began to work out the dates and other programme details.

Indian Ambassador Gautam Bambawale proposed her meeting with a member of the powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, the highest body of the party which governs China, according to a PTI story from Beijing quoting unnamed sources.

But the CPC did not facilitate her meeting with any senior leader other than Song Tao, the Minister of the International Department of the ruling Communist Party of China because CPC didn't understand and appreciate her stature both as chief minister and as head of an important political party, the Trinamool Congress.

When Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan visited China in 2016, he had met Zhao Leji, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the CPC Central Committee Organisation Department, besides Song.

Notwithstanding several meetings between the top leadership, India-China relation remains a sensitive one since the last year's Doklam crisis.

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Mamata Banerjee cancels China trip


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