Mamata Cancels First China Visit As ‘Political Meetings At Appropriate Level’ Not Confirmed By CPC

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Kolkata/Beijing(PTI): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cancelled her first China visit on Friday at the last minute as political meetings at the “appropriate level” were not confirmed by the Chinese government

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief was slated to leave for China on Friday night for an eight-day visit

She was scheduled to lead a delegation to China under the exchange programme of the Government of India with the International Department of the Communist Party of China

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is at present out of the country, and Foreign Secretary V K Gokhale were informed about the cancellation of Banerjee’s visit

In a Facebook post, the chief minister said, “In March this year, the Union Minister of External Affairs had recommended to me to kindly consider leading a delegation to China in the coming months under the Exchange Programme of the Government of India with the International Department of the Communist Party of China.”

Noting that she had agreed to the proposal, Banerjee 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.”

Pursuant to letters from the state chief secretary and the ambassador of India in China, a programme was chalked out and the visit was planned, She said

Till Thursday, everything was “going well”, the chief minister said, adding that unfortunately, “the political meetings at the appropriate level” could not be confirmed

“It has now been intimated by our Ambassador in China that the political meetings at the appropriate level under the Exchange Programme could not be confirmed. Therefore, the purpose of my visit with a delegation to China under the Exchange Programme is of no use,” she said.

According to sources in Beijing, the CPC did not facilitate her meeting with any senior leader other than Song Tao, Minister of the International Department of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC)

The international department is in-charge of conducting relations with various political parties of the world, including India, and hosts and interacts with visiting political leaders

But considering her stature in Indian politics, India had proposed a meeting with a member of the powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, the highest body of the party which governs the country, the sources told news agency PTI

The committee is headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also the General Secretary of the CPC

Her visit has been cancelled due to the failure of the CPC officials to understand and appreciate her stature both as chief minister and as head of the political party, the Trinamool Congress and the importance of her visit, the sources said

There was no immediate comment from the CPC on the cancellation of Banerjee’s visit

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

Sources said Banerjee’s visit was expected to be rescheduled as both the countries have been making efforts to improve the relations following the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi providing a new direction to the bilateral ties

Banerjee said although the Indian ambassador in China tried his best to make her visit a success, the non-confirmation of the political meetings “at the last moment”, had “unfortunately compelled us to cancel the visit”

“However, I wish the continuation of the friendship of India and China in the days to come and it should strengthen further in the interest of both the countries,” she added

Banerjee was scheduled to address a high-profile meeting of CEOs of Chinese companies in Shanghai as part of efforts to scout for Chinese investment in the eastern state of West Bengal.

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