India message to China on Taiwan: Avoid actions to change status quo

In its first statement since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei 10 days ago which angered China and led to PLA military drills, India on Friday called for “exercise of restraint” and to avoid “unilateral actions to change (the) status quo” over Taiwan.

It did not spell out the One-China policy, and instead said that the government’s “relevant” policies are “well-known and consistent” and “do not require reiteration”.

Responding to questions on India’s talks with NATO, Arindam Bachi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said,  “India and NATO have kept in touch in Brussels at different levels for quite some time now. This is part of our contacts with various stakeholders on global issues of mutual interest.”

The Indian Express reported Thursday that New Delhi held its first political dialogue with NATO in Brussels on December 12, 2019. The talks were attended by senior officials including from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Defence.

To questions on the Taiwan issue, Bagchi said, “Like many other countries, India too is concerned at recent developments. We urge the exercise of restraint, avoidance of unilateral actions to change status quo, de-escalation of tensions and efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region.”

On the question of the One-China policy, the MEA spokesperson said, “India’s relevant policies are well-known and consistent. They do not require reiteration.”

India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan yet as it adheres to the One-China policy.

Without naming China, New Delhi also called Beijing’s blocking of the proposal to designate  Pakistan-based Abdul Rauf Azhar as a global terrorist as “unfortunate”.

Referred to as Abdul Rauf Asghar in UN documents, he is the brother of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and deputy chief of the proscribed terror group.

“We note with regret that a ‘technical hold’ has been placed on the listing proposal for Abdul Rauf Asghar. It is unfortunate that when it comes to our collective battle against terrorism, the international community has been unable to speak in one common voice,” Bagchi said.

He quoted Ruchira Kamboj, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, who, during the UNSC Open Debate on August 9, had flagged this concern categorically to all members: “There should be no double standards in dealing with terrorists.”

“The practice of placing holds and blocks without giving any justification must end. It is most regrettable that genuine and evidence based listing proposals pertaining to some of the most notorious terrorists in the world are being placed on hold. Double standards and continuing politicization have rendered the credibility of the Sanctions Regime at an all time low,” Kamboj said.

Bagchi said that Abdul Rauf was actively involved in terrorist attacks such as hijacking of Indian Airlines aircraft IC-814 in 1999, the Parliament terror attacks in 2001 and the terror attacks at the Indian Army camp in Kathua in 2014 and at the IAF base in Pathankot in 2016.

Abdul Rauf, he said, has been proscribed under Indian and US laws already, and therefore “the placing of the “technical hold” against such wanted terrorist is most uncalled for.”

“India will continue pursuing its principled position of bringing these terrorists to justice, including through the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Regime,” he said.

On the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying that it was “completely unjustified for certain countries to cite the so-called security concerns” to pressure Sri Lanka — in the context of the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry asking China to “defer” the arrival of the Yuan Wang 5, a military vessel, at its southern port of Hambantota – the MEA spokesperson said, “We reject the insinuations in the statement about India. Sri Lanka is a sovereign country and makes its own independent decisions.”

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He said as far as India-Sri Lanka relations are concerned, “you are aware of the centrality that Sri Lanka occupies in our Neighbourhood First policy. India has extended this year itself an unprecedented support of over US$ 3.8 billion for ameliorating the serious economic situation in Sri Lanka. India also is fully supportive of its democracy, stability and economic recovery.”

On India-China relations, Bagchi said, “We have consistently emphasized the necessity of mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests as a basis for the development of ties.”

“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,” he said.

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