China on Wednesday said it hoped India will uphold an independent foreign policy, in the clearest statement yet asking New Delhi not to align all its strategic interests with the United States.
“We hope and believe that as an important force in the global multi polarisation, India will stay to its independent diplomatic policy and play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace and stability and in the management of international affairs,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.
Wenbin statement came in response to external affairs minister, S Jaishankar, on Tuesday saying that, like in the past, New Delhi will never join any system of alliance as it never did in the past. But he added that India’s policy of non-alignment was for a specific era, and the country cannot be a bystander anymore and “needs to take risk” in its multilateral relations.
The statement came in the backdrop of the worst chill in India-China ties in decades following the hostile border standoff and the violent Galwan Valley clash in eastern Ladakh last month, in which 20 Indian soldiers had died, and New Delhi carrying out a military naval drill with US aircraft carrier, Nimitz, near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands this week.
India and the US have also intensified intelligence and military collaboration and cooperation to an unprecedented level over the last one month, with China being a common worry for both nations.
On Wednesday, the US told China to close its consulate in Houston, deepening the deterioration in bilateral relations. News agency Reuters reported Beijing was considering shutting down the US consulate in Wuhan in response.
Beijing would have also taken note of the Indian navy’s drills with its US counterpart. The USS Nimitz and warships of the Indian Navy conducted exercises designed to maximise training and interoperability, including air defence. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, the US Navy said, is currently deployed in the Indian Ocean in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Nimitz along with another carrier USS Ronald Reagan had earlier carried out a drill in the South China Sea region, deeply riling China.
The two countries have also been working to step up information sharing between security, military and intelligence branches of the two countries.