Sri Lanka Needs Support, Not Pressure: India Slams China

Hitting out at China for its remarks on India’s objection to the docking of its high-tech ship at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port, New Delhi on Saturday firmly told Beijing that what Colombo needs now is “support, not unwanted pressure or unnecessary controversies” to serve another country’s agenda.

“We have noted the remarks of the Chinese Ambassador. His violation of basic diplomatic etiquette may be a personal trait or reflecting a larger national attitude,” the High Commission of India in Sri Lankan tweeted.

It said the Chinese envoy Qi Zhenhong’s view of India may be coloured by how his own country behaves.

“India, we assure him, is very different,” the Indian mission said.

The Ambassador’s imputing a geopolitical context to the visit of a purported scientific research vessel is a giveaway, the mission said, adding that “opaqueness and debt driven agendas are now a major challenge, especially for smaller nations. Recent developments are a caution”.

“Sri Lanka needs support, not unwanted pressure or unnecessary controversies to serve another country’s agenda,” it said, as the island nation was grappling with the worst economic crisis since 1948.

In a veiled attack on India, China on Friday said that “external obstruction” based on so-called security concerns without any evidence is a “thorough interference” into Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence.

In a statement hinting at India’s objection to the docking of a Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ ship at the Hambantota port, Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka, Qi, said that China was happy that the matter was dealt with and Beijing and Colombo jointly safeguard each other’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

“External obstruction based on so-called security concerns but without any evidence from certain forces is de facto a thorough interference into Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence,” the statement said without directly naming India.

India had rejected China’s “insinuations” that New Delhi pressured Colombo against the visit by a Chinese research vessel to the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota but asserted that it will take decisions based on its security concerns.

“We reject the insinuations in the statement about India. Sri Lanka is a sovereign country and makes its own independent decisions,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing in New Delhi on August 12.

He said that Sri Lanka, as a sovereign country, makes its own independent decisions and noted that India would make its judgment on its security concerns based on the prevailing situation in the region, especially in the border areas, seen as a veiled reference to the eastern Ladakh row with China.

The high-tech ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ was originally scheduled to arrive at the Chinese-run port on August 11 but it was delayed in absence of permission by Sri Lankan authorities following security concerns raised by India.

The Chinese ship arrived in the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota on August 16. It was docked there for replenishment.

Sri Lanka granted the port access to the vessel from August 16 to 22 on condition that it will keep the Automatic Identification System (AIS) switched on within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Sri Lanka and no scientific research to be conducted in Sri Lankan waters.

There were apprehensions in New Delhi about the possibility of the Chinese vessel’s tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian defence installations while being on its way to the Sri Lankan port.


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