In 1991, Chinese Premier Li Peng, who was on a visit to India, handed over Rs 500 to an Intelligence Bureau official who had been assigned as the liaison officer with the Chinese delegation. Although it is customary for visiting delegations to give gifts of mementos, the cash ‘gift’ was considered a breach of protocol, and according to media accounts, was promptly returned to the Chinese embassy.

It appears that Chinese visitors have, at the very least, been sensitised to the impact of inflation in India in recent years. For yesterday, visiting Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie committed another such breach of protocol, when he handed over a cash ‘gift’ to two IAF officers – but this time the ‘gift’ was for a total of Rs 1 lakh.

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