Sharply reacting to recent remarks of the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, on the controversial visit of a Chinese military vessel from August 16 to 22, the Indian mission in Colombo said they “violated basic diplomatic etiquette” and “gave away” the purpose of the vessel’s visit.
In a strongly worded Twitter thread late on Saturday, the Indian High Commission said it had 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 Indian mission said.
“His view of Sri Lanka’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,” it said.
India’s uncharacteristically direct response referring to the diplomat and China came a day after Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong wrote in Sri Lanka media about countries “far or near bullying Sri Lanka”. The Ambassador had also observed that Sri Lanka overcame “aggression from its northern neighbour 17 times”.
He had also connected U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan with the “successful” docking of Chinese satellite-tracking vessel Yuan Wang 5 in the southern Hambantota port, and argued for China and Sri Lanka “jointly safeguarding each other’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity”.
The ship, which deferred its arrival by a few days on Sri Lanka’s request, after India and the U.S. raised concern, left on August 22 after a week.
The Indian High Commission further said: “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.”
Sri Lanka’s Chinese debt is in focus in the context of the island nation’s attempts to restructure its foreign loans to qualify for IMF support.