New Delhi [India], August 12 (ANI): India has rejected insinuations by China that it had exerted pressure on Colombo to defer the visit of a high-tech Chinese research vessel to Hambantota port and said Sri Lanka is a sovereign country and makes its own independent decisions.
"We reject the insinuations in the statement about India. Sri Lanka is a sovereign country and makes its own independent decisions," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing.
He said India will make the best judgement about its security interests and it takes into account the prevailing situation in the region, specially in border areas.
Tensions had escalated between India and China following the actions of the Chinese Army in eastern Ladakh in April-May 2020. The two sides have held several rounds of talks for disengagement along the pending friction points along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh but there seemingly has been little progress.
"With regard to our security concerns, this is the sovereign right of every country. We will make the best judgment in our own interest. This naturally takes into account the prevailing situation in our region, especially in the border areas," Bagchi said.
The MEA spokesperson also referred to the centrality that Sri Lanka has in India's Neighbourhood First policy.
Sri Lanka last week asked China to defer the visit of the spy ship Yuan Wang 5 at Hambantota.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka requested China to defer the arrival date of the satellite tracker military ship until further consultations are made on this issue.
"The Ministry wishes to request that the arrival date of the vessel Yuan Wang 5 in Hambantota be deferred until further consultations are made on this matter," read the MoFA letter referred to the Embassy of China in Sri Lanka.
The Chinese vessel was scheduled to dock at Hambantota port on August 11 for refuelling and leave on August 17.
Following Sri Lanka's decision, China had said that the cooperation between China and Sri Lanka is independently chosen by the two countries and meets common interests and does not target any third party.
Beijing had also said that it is "senseless to pressure Sri Lanka" by citing the issue of security concerns in an apparent reference to reports that Colombo had taken the decision following concerns expressed by India.
Bagchi had said last month that India is aware of reports of a proposed visit by the vessel at Hambantota port in August.
"Let me just say that government carefully monitors any development having a bearing on India's security and economic interests and takes all necessary measures to safeguard them. I think that should be a clear message," Bagchi had said.
Hambantota port, located around 250 km from Colombo, was built with high-interest Chinese loans. The Sri Lankan government struggled to repay the debt they had taken from China following which the port was handed over to the Chinese on a 99-year lease. (ANI)