NEW DELHI: India has accused China of “militarization of the Taiwan Strait”, in an escalating war of words triggered by a Chinese military ship docking in a controversial Sri Lankan port.
The accusation, referenced in a statement by the Indian high commission in Sri Lanka on Sunday, is reportedly the first time the Indian government has used the descriptor, and is a rare intervention on the cross-straits issues as India contends with tensions on its own border with China.
Earlier this month a Chinese military research vessel docked at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port for a week. Analysts say the Yuan Wang 5 is among a group of Chinese ships operated by the People’s Liberation Army that monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
The docking of the Yuan Wang 5 was delayed for several days after India objected, amid fears that Beijing intends to use the port as a military base. China’s foreign affairs ministry had said the vessel was conducting maritime research, in line with international law and practice, and would not affect “the security and economic interests of any country”.
The Yuan Wang 5 left a week ago, but over the weekend China’s embassy in Sri Lanka accused India of using security concerns to conduct “de facto thorough interference in Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence”