Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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India’s Next China Envoy

Vikram Misri, currently India’s Ambassador to Myanmar will succeed Gautam Bambawale in Beijing by the end of November. His appointment raised some eyebrows in the strategic community since Misri is not a Mandarin speaker. Normally, China specialists (and Mandarin speakers) in the MEA see the post in Beijing as their turf but the PMO as well as the Ministry of External Affairs felt that Misri, with his long experience in the PMO and a reputation for good strategic sense, is best suited for the job, given that relations  with China are at a delicate stage at the moment. While the incumbent Bambawale and his predecessor, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, are both old China hands, former Foreign Secretaries Nirupama Rao and S. Jaishankar or Ambassador Nalin Surie—some of the Indian envoys to China in the past two decades—were not Mandarin speakers. So while knowledge of Mandarin is an advantage, not knowing the language is not seen as a handicap, especially for the top diplomatic post in Beijing.