India and China have still not decided on the proposal to open the fourth consulate, with the Chinese having proposed that their next office should be in Chennai.
“The Governments of India and China have discussed the opening of additional Consulates General in each other’s country as well as the establishment of ‘sister city’ ties between cities in India and China.
No decisions have been made in these matters,” said a written reply by Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed in Rajya Sabha.
China had earlier proposed to open its third consulate in Chennai, along with the other two in Kolkata and Mumbai. India has three consulates - Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
India had been angling to get another consulate in Lhasa, but has so far been strongly rebuffed by China. The proposal is seen in Beijing as a political move, rather than for any economic benefit to India. So far, only Nepal operates a consulate in Lhasa.
Tibet is already going through a sensitive time, with more and more incidents of self-immolations by monks and ordinary citizens being reported. China had reportedly suggested Chengdu in Sichuan as an alternate location for an Indian consulate.
India was forced to close down its consulate in 1959 after the Dalai Lama escaped to India. Incidentally, the last Indian consul-general in Lhasa was P N Menon, father of the National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon.
Menon reached Beijing on Sunday to begin two-days of border talks with his counterpart, Dai Bingguo from Monday.