China downplays evacuation operation, says border tension ‘media speculation’

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BEIJING: China on Tuesday downplayed the much-publicised evacuation of its citizens from India in the backdrop of the border tension between both the countries.

Global Times, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, said that evacuation of Chinese citizens from India was a normal process and should not be linked with the border tensions.

Published in English, Global Times also clarified that the news of escalation of tension on the India-China border was just media speculation. The paper wrote, “The voluntary repatriation plan should be seen as a normal service provided by the embassy to its citizens. Yet, some Indian media outlets have intentionally linked the normal operation to the recent border tension between China and India, fuelling a new round of irresponsible speculation that China may be preparing for an escalation of the border disputes.”

Earlier on Monday, in an urgent notice, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi had told its citizens residing in India that special flights would be available to fly them back home. The Chinese plans to evacuate its citizens was seen in the backdrop of the growing border tensions between India and China, besides the rising Covid-19 cases in parts of Western and Northern India.

The notice said that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made elaborate plans, especially for students and tourists who have been facing difficulty in taking flights to China A day later, Global Times hinted that the decision to evacuate Chinese citizens was taken to relieve the stranded students, tourists and businessmen in India.

“On Monday, India became the 10th worst-hit country in the Covid-19 pandemic, with its number of coronavirus cases totaling nearly 140,000,” it said. The newspaper further said that New Delhi should not misinterpret the move by China this time. After all, it was not long ago that the Indian government took similar actions to bring home its citizens stranded abroad.

Government sources in Beijing said that both the countries should focus on improving bilateral trade amid the global economic crisis caused by the spread of the pandemic. “As a result of coronavirus shocks and other structural trade factors, China-India economic and trade exchanges are already stuck in an awkward situation. For instance, after changing its foreign direct investment policy to block potential takeovers from Chinese companies, the Indian government is reportedly considering clamping down on Chinese investors’ access to the Indian market,” the paper wrote.