Fifty years ago JULY 26, 1972 | Archives

Chinese Embassy flouts a custom

New Delhi, July 25: The only flag flying at full mast in Delhi during the last three days of the State mourning ordered by the Government of India, as mark of respect to the memory of the late King of Bhutan, has been the big red flag over the Chinese Embassy in the diplomatic enclave here. As a matter of courtesy to the host country that ordered the State mourning — and Bhutan which lost its King — all other diplomatic missions in Delhi have been flying their flags at half-mast and refraining from official entertainment. Though none of them has any direct diplomatic relations with this Himalayan kingdom, the heads of all the missions, with the solitary exception of the Chinese Charge d’Affaires, have called at the residence of the Bhutan representative in Delhi to sign on the condolence register and personally express their sorrow. The observance of this diplomatic formality in Delhi had its own significance since it implied a recognition by the world community of the special relationship existing between India and Bhutan. But China has deliberately ignored the State mourning and refrained from observing even the routine courtesy of flying its flag at half-mast because it does not consider Bhutan an independent State. It continues to maintain that, since at one time Bhutan used to pay some sort of token tribute to the Chinese Emperor in Peking through Tibet, the present ruling dynasty cannot unilaterally repudiate this obligation and claim sovereign status under Indian protection. 


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