New Delhi: India on Saturday criticised China for allegations of ‘interfering’ in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and firmly communicated to Beijing that Colombo needs “support, not unwanted pressure or unnecessary controversies” to serve another country’s agenda. The reaction comes after China hit out at India on its objection to the docking of the Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ at the Hambantota port, reported news agency PTI.
In a statement, the Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhongon on Friday said that “external obstruction” based on so-called security concerns without any evidence is a “thorough interference” into the island nation’s sovereignty and independence.
Opaqueness And Debt-Driven Agendas Are Now A Major Challenge: India
“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 Lanka tweeted. “India, we assure him, is very different,” the Indian mission noted.
The ambassador’s imputing a geopolitical context to the visit of a purportedly 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 is grappling with the worst economic crisis since 1948.
External obstruction …thorough interference into Sri Lanka’s sovereignty: China
Qi Zhenhongon said China was happy that the matter related to the docking of ‘Yuan Wang 5’ at the Hambantota port 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, hinting at India, according to the PTI report.
Earlier, India dismissed China’s “insinuations” that New Delhi pressured the island nation 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.
The arrival of the ship at the Hambantota port stirred controversy as China leased the port from Sri Lanka in 2017 for 99 years after the island nation failed to pay debts related to the construction of the facility.
The permission to docking of the Chinese research vessel becomes crucial amid the economic crisis in Sri Lanka which is trying to seek an early bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
China is a major creditor of Sri Lanka and is vital to Sri Lanka’s efforts to restructure its debt to secure a bailout from the IMF.