NEW DELHI: The Chinese delegation which was here for the
had insisted on carrying 20 bags containing “suspicious equipment” to their rooms.
A day after TOI broke the story of the high-wattage confrontation between the Chinese and a team of alert security officers on the sixth floor of Taj Palace hotel in national capital, sources said six Chinese officials, two-three of them from their embassy here, led by a woman, resisted the Indian team’s request for the bags to be scanned, triggering a 12-hour-long confrontation which saw the Indian side standing its ground.
The bags, as reported by TOI, were of peculiar dimensions that immediately caught the attention of security personnel at the hotel. “The bags were around 1×1 metre in length and width and 10 inches thick,” said a source, adding that they were not checked after being unloaded from the aircraft because of the protocol laid down under the Vienna Convention.
The Indian security establishment deployed three men outside the hotel room where the bags had been taken. The men were rotated every hour and the watch continued for over 12 hours before the Chinese gave in and agreed to have the bags sent to their embassy, the alternative offered to them in case they did not want the bags to be put through the scanner.
A special escort team was dispatched along with the vehicle carrying the bags to the Chinese embassy to ensure they were returned.
While the security establishment has officially maintained that the matter stood resolved after the bags were dropped at the embassy, sources said efforts were on to identify the equipment. Intelligence officials are probing if they were ‘off-the-air’ type surveillance and jamming devices. A Chinese electronics giant is known to be supplying these SIG-INT (signal-intelligence) gathering devices for surveillance.
There was no statement from the Chinese side. The Chinese stance raised hackles not only because the Brazilian president was staying in the same hotel but also because heads of other countries, including US President Joe Biden, were staying in the neighbouring one, ITC Maurya, sources said. “There was no way we would have allowed them to keep the equipment in the hotel until we were absolutely satisfied about what exactly they were meant for,” a source said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping skipped the
summit and sent Premier Li Qiang instead. Li, whose arrival was announced at the last minute, did not travel on one of the usual ‘special aircraft’ meant for senior leaders and, instead, arrived on a chartered flight , much to the surprise of Indian agencies.