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Etiquette breach: Delhi, Beijing spar over Chinese ‘spy ship’ at Sri Lanka port

Etiquette breach: Delhi, Beijing spar over Chinese ‘spy ship’ at Sri Lanka port

India has issued a scathing rejoinder after a Chinese diplomat took veiled dig at Sri Lanka’s “northern neighbour” for objecting to the docking of a Chinese military vessel at Hambantota port.

China’s research and survey vessel, the Yuan Wang 5, arrives at Hambantota port on August 16 (AFP photo)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • India hit out at a Chinese diplomat’s “violation of basic diplomatic etiquette”
  • He had taken a veiled dig at India for objecting to docking of a Chinese military vessel in Sri Lanka.

India and China were locked in a verbal sparring match over a Chinese military vessel that arrived in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port earlier this month.

The war of words was triggered by Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong’s remarks taking a veiled dig at India for its objection to the docking of the ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ at Hambantota port.

In an article in a Chinese daily, Zhenhong said that “external obstruction” based on so-called security concerns without any evidence is a “thorough interference” into Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence. He also called out what he called a history of aggression against the island nation by “the northern neighbour”.

Firing back at Zhenhong for his “violation of basic diplomatic etiquette”, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said the Chinese diplomat’s view of Sri Lanka’s “northern neighbour may be coloured by how his own country behaves”.

“India, we assure him, is very different,” the Indian mission said in a scathing rejoinder.

His view of #SriLanka‘s northern neighbour may be coloured by how his own country behaves. #India, we assure him,is very different.

His imputing a geopolitical context to the visit of a purported scientific research vessel is a giveaway . (2/3)

— India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) August 27, 2022

The high commission also hit out at China saying “opaqueness and debt-driven agendas” are now a major challenge, especially for smaller nations, and that 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.

Opaqueness and debt driven agendas are now a major challenge, especially for smaller nations. Recent developments are a caution.

#SriLanka needs support, not unwanted pressure or unnecessary controversies to serve another country’s agenda.(3/3)

— India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) August 27, 2022

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 the absence of permission by Sri Lankan authorities following security concerns raised by India.

Yuan Wang 5 arrived in Hambantota port on August 16 after Sri Lanka’s U-turn to allow the Chinese vessel. It was docked there for replenishment.

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..

(With PTI inputs)

— ENDS —

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