New Delhi is growing more and more confident in its diplomatic strategy against China, amidst the ongoing military stand-off in Eastern Ladakh at the Indo-Tibetan border between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
India has now landed a diplomatic punch at Beijing by raking up the Hong Kong issue for the first time.
Rajiv Kumar Chander, India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN said, “Given the large Indian community that makes the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China its home, India has been keeping a close watch on the recent developments. We have heard several statements expressing concerns on these developments. We hope the relevant parties will take into account these views and address them properly, seriously and objectively.”
He was speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday. His comments follow China’s latest move of destroying autonomy, and precious freedoms and liberties, in Hong Kong.
The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, or the controversial National Security Law that it is being called worldwide, came into effect in Hong Kong on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the handover of the territory from British rule to China.
Now, Hong Kong is no different from other occupied regions of China which it claims to provide ‘autonomy’ to, like Tibet and Xinjiang. Promulgated on late Tuesday night, the law, which was brought into force by the CCP by bypassing Hong Kong’s legislature, criminalises “acts of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security.”
People convicted of these offences defined in deliberately vague terms can face sentences upto life imprisonment.
Essentially, all political activities which the CCP does not like, are now forbidden in the erstwhile autonomous region, which China claimed is still operating under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.
In fact, the CCP has already shown that the former British colony is just another China-occupied territory now. A brutal police crackdown happened just after the National Security Law was enforced by the CCP.
Some 200 people, including a man holding a black independence flag and a woman with a sign reading, “Hong Kong Independence” were detained by the police. The so-called Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong could now be headed towards the CCP culture of enforced disappearances and mysterious murders of human rights activists.
India’s remarks expressing concern about Hong Kong came during an interaction about the human rights situation around the world.
According to TOI, sources said that the United States was keen on India speaking up about Hong Kong. Till now, India is the only country in the Quad- an informal strategic forum consisting of the US, Australia, India and Japan to contain China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.
The entire democratic world has spoken about Hong Kong. Australia, the US, the UK and Canada have all criticised the imposition of the regressive National Security Law in Hong Kong.
Japan too has spoken in favour of a free and open Hong Kong. And there was increasing pressure on India to speak up on the issue too.
Things have moved beyond diplomatic deftness and strategic restraint for India. Beijing has already crossed the dangerous red line. Chinese PLA behaved like an insurgent group and used primitive weapons against the Bihar Regiment of the Indian Army during the Galwan Valley clash. And now things can no longer return to the point of normalcy.
Beijing has remained reluctant to resolve border disputes with India, despite the latter’s goodwill. India was silent on Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong all this while. But China has time and again raked Article 370 abrogation before the UN Security Council. Beijing supports Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir even though Islamabad is condemned by the world for using cross-border terrorism as an instrument of State policy.
India has had enough of it. The statement on Hong Kong is not critical of China in the strict sense of the term. Yet it is a departure in India’s diplomatic policy of not raking up issues of horrifying human rights violations in the People’s Republic of China. And one hopes that there is no looking back from this latest departure.