New Delhi: India has lambasted the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong, who wrote in an opinion article that Colombo has overcome “aggression by (its) northern neighbour”, stating that he violated the diplomatic etiquette thereby reflecting his country’s “national attitude”.
“We have noted the remarks of the Chinese Ambassador. His violation of the basic diplomatic etiquette may be a personal trait or reflecting a larger national attitude. His view of Sri Lanka’s northern neighbour may be coloured by how his country behaves. India, we assure him, is very different,” said a statement issued by the High Commission of India in Sri Lanka late Saturday evening.
Reacting a day after to the article titled – From One-China Principle to ‘Yuan Wang 5’: Let’s Join Hands and Resolutely Safeguard Our Sovereignty, Independence and Territorial Integrity – authored by Qi, that got published in a Sri Lankan digital news portal Sri Lanka Guardian, the Indian High Commission’s spokesperson said, “His (Qi’s) imputing a geopolitical context to the visit of a purported scientific research vessel is a giveaway.”
India, in its statement, also highlighted the recent economic crisis in Sri Lanka and blamed the ‘Chinese debt’ as one of the prime reasons for 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.
It added, “His (Chinese envoy’s) move to attach a geopolitical context to the arrival of a ship supposedly for scientific research is hypocritical.”
Regarding the recent arrival and docking of the Chinese ‘spy ship’ Yuan Wang 5 at Sri Lanka’s strategic Hambantota Port, which India had objected to, the Chinese Ambassador, in his Op-ed piece, wrote that Beijing and Colombo had jointly “resisted the rude and unreasonable interference from third parties.”
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‘Lanka needs support not controversy’
Qi also sought to link the ship issue with that of Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s stand on ‘One China’ principle in the wake of the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “sneaky visit” to Taiwan.
The Indian High Commission also said currently what Sri Lanka needs is “support and not unnecessary controversy or pressure based on another country’s agenda.”
Earlier this month, India gifted a Dornier maritime reconnaissance aircraft to Sri Lanka, which will be operated by their Air Force and Navy. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the aircraft would act as a force multiplier, enabling Sri Lanka to tackle multiple challenges such as human and drug trafficking, smuggling, and other organized forms of crime in its coastal waters more effectively.
Since January this year, India has extended aid and assistance to the tune of $4 billion, in order to help Sri Lanka tide over their current unprecedented economic crisis even as it vowed to support the new dispensation there.
(Edited by Siddarth Muralidharan)
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