Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guang Lie, who is on a five-day visit to India, gifted ₹100,000 to two Indian Air Force pilots on Monday in breach of the protocol norms in the country.
According to Press Trust of India, the visiting dignitary handed over two envelopes to the pilots of the of special IAF aircraft which flew him and his accompanying 23-member delegation from Mumbai to Delhi for talks with Indian Defence Minister A K Antony.
After the dignitaries disembarked the plane, the pilots opened the envelopes only to discover a ward of cash which is a direct violation of protocol. Unlike several other counties, Indian government rules state that awarding cash as a token of appreciation is a breach of conduct.
"It's customary for any foreign dignitary to give small gifts like cufflinks or ties to the pilots. So, the two pilots accepted the sealed envelopes handed over by the Chinese official on landing at Palam,'' an official said according to The Times of India.
After being informed of the cash, the captain of the aircraft informed the commanding officer, Group Captain S C Gulati who in turn passed the message to the IAF headquarters. Instead of handing back the gift, it was decided that the money will be sent to the Government treasury to "avoid hurting Chinese sensitivities'', the news agency said.
According to NDTV, this isn't the first time India was gifted money by Chinese delegates. China's fourth Premier Li Peng in his visit to India in 1991 handed ₹500 to an Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer. The country responded quickly by returning the money to the Chinese embassy.