India to lodge protest with China over `tip` to pilots?

Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie had gifted Rs 100,000 in sealed envelopes to two Indian Air Force pilots.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Days after Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie triggered a diplomatic headache during his recent trip to India by gifting Rs 100,000 in sealed envelopes to two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots, New Delhi is mulling lodging a protest with Beijing over the incident.

According to a report in Mail Today, joint secretary (Air) in the Ministry of Defence has sent a letter to the East Asia division of the Ministry of External Affairs, directing it to lodge a protest.

Also, a report is being sent to the Prime Minister`s Office.

The report adds that Indian Ambassador to China S Jaishankar is expected to communicate New Delhi’s annoyance to the Chinese foreign office.

Also, the report said that the Indian government is not ruling out a spying angle to the whole matter.

General Liang Guanglie`s `tip` to pilots is seen as a conscious act to assess if the pilots could be bought over by luring them with money for missions.

The pilots, who flew the visiting minister by special IAF aircraft from Mumbai to Delhi on Monday, were given two sealed envelopes after they landed in New Delhi. When they opened the envelopes, they found Rs 100,000 in Indian currency.

They informed the commanding officer, who in turn told the air officer commanding about the unusual gift.

It was decided that the cash gift would be deposited in the `toshkhana` (government depository).

The sources pointed out although it is not Indian convention to accept gifts in cash, it could not be returned due to the sensitivities involved.

General Liang is the first Chinese defence minister to visit India in the last eight years. He held wide-ranging talks with his Indian counterpart AK Antony on Tuesday that culminated in the two sides deciding to resume joint military sources.

(With IANS inputs)