Foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup says nothing new or unusual about such visits and political meanings should not be read into them
New Delhi: India has brushed off protests from China over the visit of a three-member Taiwanese parliamentary delegation, saying the trip was not a formal one.
“Such informal groups have visited India in the past as well for business, religious and tourism purposes. I understand that they do so to China as well. There is nothing new or unusual about such visits and political meanings should not be read into them," said foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Wednesday.
A Taiwanese delegation comprising academics, business people and a couple of legislators had visited India earlier this month.
The Indian response came hours after Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing that China had lodged a diplomatic protest with India.
“China lodged representations with India" over the Taiwan delegation’s visit to New Delhi, Geng said adding: “We hope that India would understand and respect China’s core concerns and stick to the ‘One-China’ principle and prudently deal with Taiwan-related issues and maintain sound and steady development of India-China relations."
“We are always opposed to any forms of official contacts and exchanges between countries that have diplomatic ties with China and Taiwan (simultaneously) and we are also opposed to the establishment of any official institutions," he said responding to Taiwan’s announcement that it plans to upgrade its office in India.
The three-member Taiwanese delegation visited India from 12 February. Taiwan is represented in New Delhi by a “Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre" and India has an “India-Taipei Association" in Taiwan.
“The reason why China lodged the representation is because that we have been requiring countries that have diplomatic relations with China to fulfil their commitment to the ‘One China’ principle," Geng said.
“So by making our representation we are urging the Indian side to stick to the ‘One China’ principle and take concrete actions for steady development of China-India relations," Geng said.
Earlier, Chinese media too warned India against what it called playing the Taiwan card with state-run Global Times stating that “by challenging China over the Taiwan question, India is playing with fire."
“At a time when new US President Donald Trump has put the brakes on challenging China over the Taiwan question, agreeing to change course and respecting the “one China" policy, India stands out as a provocateur," the Global Times said in opinion piece titled “New Delhi will suffer losses if it plays Taiwan card."
“High-level visits between India and Taiwan are not very frequent, so why did India invite the Taiwan delegation to visit at this time?" the article asked referring to Taiwanese MPs delegation. The visit was the first such since the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen administration took office, it noted. Tsai, who won on elections last year is a strong supporter of Taiwan’s independence from China.
“Some Indians view the Taiwan question as an Achilles’ Heel of the mainland. India has long wanted to use the Taiwan question, the South China Sea and Dalai Lama issues as bargaining chips in dealing with China," the article said.
“With the advancement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in recent years, India’s strategic suspicions about China have been growing," the Global Times said.
On its part, China has been unnerved by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama meeting President Pranab Mukherjee in December. Beijing has also been upset by India allowing the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit Arunachal Pradesh in March this year which follows a visit by former US ambassador to India Richard Verma in October.
China lays claim to 90,000 sq. km of land or most of Arunachal Pradesh, calling the north-eastern state South Tibet.
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