Kolkata: As the face off at Doklam continues, its impact is beginning to be felt on routine exchanges between India and China. A seminar that was to be held in Kolkata on Thursday with five academicians from China was “unilaterally postponed” by China’s consulate general in the city because of “technical reasons” a couple of days ago.
A school that teaches Mandarin in Kolkata was expecting Chinese schoolchildren to visit on Monday. But that visit has also been scrapped. The consulate general was co-hosting the seminar on “Belt & Road Initative, BCIM & the Role of Eastern India” with Kolkata-based NGO Asia in Global Affairs (AGA) and the Research Institute of Indian Ocean Economics, a Chinese think tank based in Yunnan.
On August 4, when China’s consul general Ma Zhanwu and AGA president Sitaram Sharma held a joint press meet to announce the seminar and were asked if such a seminar was possible in such tense times, Mr Zhanwu had said, “There are differences between India and China but shared interests far outweigh these difference that can be resolved through rational, constructive and objective talks.”
But sources said Doklam had already impacted the seminar. One of the six Chinese academicians invited had expressed his inability to come in view of the tensions between the two countries. So, finally, only five academicians were expected as well as half a dozen Indian China experts.
Not just academicians, even Chinese schoolchildren scheduled to visit The School of Chinese Language in Kolkata dropped out. The school is recommended by Consulate General of China and authorised by Chinese Testing International, Beijing, to train students and conduct proficiency exams in Chinese.
“In fact, getting teachers to come and teach here has become difficult in the last month,” said officials of one of several Mandarin schools in Kolkata. Even today Chinese news agency Xinjua has put out a tweet, “Facts show Indian troops’ illegal entry into Chinese territory; its immediate, unconditional withdrawal prerequisite for solving standoff.”
Global Times, believed to voice the government’s point of view, reported today that “The Chinese Foreign Ministry told the Global Times on Wednesday that 53 people and a bulldozer from the Indian side remain in Chinese territory as of Monday.”
“India should withdraw its troops and equipment. Regardless of how many Indian troops have trespassed into and stayed in Chinese territory, they have gravely infringed on China’s sovereignty,” the ministry said. On August 2, China’s foreign ministry had said more than 40 Indian troops were present in Chinese territory end July. That number has now increased, it appears. Indian Army sources maintain there has been no pullback at Doklam.