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New Delhi: China hopes that New Delhi will continue to support the ‘One China’ principle and understand the “vicious political intention” behind US speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong said on Wednesday, August 3.
In an interview to the Times of India, the Chinese envoy explicitly called on India to abide by the ‘One China’ policy in the aftermath of Pelosi’s sojourn, the highest-level visit by a US official to Taiwan since 1997.
“It is hoped that India can honour the one-China principle, grasp the vicious political intention behind Pelosi’s visit and the serious harms of the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist force,” Sun said in the interview published on Thursday, August 4.
He claimed that the ‘One China’ principle is a “universal consensus of the international community” and the foundation of China’s bilateral relations with other countries, including India. “It is the core of China’s interests and a red line and bottom line that cannot be crossed. India was among the first countries to recognise that there is one China,” he said.
The Chinese envoy added that he “hoped that the Indian side can understand and support China’s efforts to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests, and work together with the Chinese side to promote a healthy and steady development of China-India relations.”
Under the ‘One China’ policy, a country does not recognise Taiwan, formed by the fleeing nationalists in 1949, as a sovereign, separate entity, but only acknowledges the People’s Republic of China created by the Communist Party of China.
On Thursday, China began its biggest-ever military drills in the Taiwan straits, a day after Pelosi’s departure. Reuters reported that the exercises started around mid-day and included multiple live firing of missiles. During her short stay, Pelosi praised Taiwan for its democracy and pledged American solidarity.
The visit took place against the backdrop of an international community already on edge, with the ongoing military conflict over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine having led to negative economic consequences worldwide.
The US supports the ‘One China’ policy, but also maintains that it could defend Taiwan in case of a military attack.
In the run-up to Pelosi’s visit, China had stated that it would take “strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Washington reassured that the visit did not mean any change in its policy and warned that China should not turn Pelosi’s trip into a “crisis”.
New Delhi appears to have been silent on the matter. It has, so far, not issued any statements in support of China like Russia, Pakistan and Iran did.
Since independence, India has adhered to the ‘One China’ policy and does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, Taiwan and India have a trade office in each other’s capitals, which operates as a de-facto embassy.
The ‘One China’ policy had always been part of joint statements. However, in 2010, India stopped adding it to the bilateral documents after China began issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
When tensions between India and China began over the eastern Ladakh stand-off, it led to calls from various quarters in the Indian media to revise New Delhi’s ‘One China policy’, resulting in expressions of concern from the Chinese side.
In May 2020, two members of parliament from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party attended the swearing-in ceremony of the Taiwan president through virtual mode. That year, India condoled the passing of Taiwan’s former president, Lee Teng Hui, who had strengthened democracy and insisted on the island nation’s status as a sovereign state, infuriating China.
Taiwan’s national day also got unusual limelight in India when a ruling party member installed celebratory posters and banners outside the Chinese embassy in October 2020.
Ahead of the day, the Chinese embassy had warned the Indian media to avoid using terms that would violate the ‘One China’ policy, which had led the Ministry of External Affairs to claim that the “free” Indian media would report “as it sees fit”.