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Shame on India for its coercion of Sri Lanka: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-06 20:46

Some Indian media outlets seemed irrepressible when they reported "India beats China in diplomatic duel" earlier this week, referring to an Indian Navy submarine visiting Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka, on the weekend, shortly after the island country suspended its reception of Chinese research ships under New Delhi's pressure.

Their crowing exposes how New Delhi is setting up obstacles to obstruct the development of India-China relations while trying to pass the buck for the souring relations to Beijing.

To begin with, New Delhi has been smearing China's marine research ships that belong to the State Oceanic Administration of China as "spy ships" of the People's Liberation Army Navy. Deep sea research is a cradle for new findings and technologies. Many countries do it by themselves or under multilateral cooperation frameworks. As long as China follows relevant international laws and codes, India has no right to interfere in it, let alone by coercing small island countries to do it in its stead.

That marine research ships of different countries stop for fueling and supplies in foreign ports is a normal practice. Not to mention the Chinese marine research ships' mission can also be of high value to the engineering and biological security of the ongoing Colombo Port City construction project, which is being carried out and funded by Chinese companies despite the project being ceaselessly vilified and hindered by New Delhi since it started 10 years ago.

Under India's pressure, Colombo unilaterally suspended the hundreds of billions of dollars' project in 2015, citing the project's potential impact on the marine environment. After Sri Lanka realized how beneficial the project, which is tantamount to building the country a new city on the sea, would be and found no other country had the capability to complete it, it came back to China.

If India really thinks it can replace China in such projects, it should have helped Sri Lanka to complete the Colombo Port City project in 2015 soon after it pressured the country to dump China. The project will be completed in 20 to 25 years with even China's sizable input and world-class civil engineering efficiency.

To force Colombo to shut the door on Chinese research ships while China is still helping the country build its largest construction project in history is by no means a diplomatic success for India, but a shame. It only serves to show New Delhi's narrow-mindedness and lack of vision in handling relations with Beijing and its neighbors.

Those in New Delhi who view the Indian Ocean as India's sphere of influence should be reminded that a public square outside of one's door is not private property even if it bears one's name.

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