Calling the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) “concerning”, the new British High Commissioner to India Philip Barton on Thursday termed as “encouraging” the commitments made by the Special Representatives to disengage and de-escalate. He also expressed concerns on Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong and on the human rights situation in China.
Barton expressed condolences for Indian soldiers killed in the Galwan Valley clash and noted the “de-escalation” and “tension which seem to have eased over the last week or two after the tragic loss of life”.
Barton, who took charge early in July, said the UK government is “very clear-sighted about the challenges that some Chinese actions present to all of us”. “We want to work with China. And we want to have positive, constructive engagement and there are many issues, including things like climate change where we can do positive things because we won’t be able to take the steps we need on climate change without China.”
Responding to questions at a virtual briefing, he said, “But there are challenges and for the UK, we don’t have a border with China but we do have particular responsibilities for Hong Kong, and the new national security law, which China imposed is a very clear and serious violation of the UK China Joint Declaration.”
“And we’ve also got grave concerns around human rights abuses. In particular, against Uighur Muslims in in Xinjiang.”
He also spoke about collaboration between India and the UK in the health sector.
“The latest reports of the results of the Oxford University vaccine candidate are encouraging and of course, as you all know, it will be manufactured here in India by the Serum Institute. I think that really illustrates our partnership in the health sector — for the benefit of both our countries but also more broadly for the world in general as we try to cope with and get beyond the pandemic.”
On trade and investment ties, he said, “Tomorrow, we’ll be convening the 14th meeting of our Joint Economic and Trade Committee with Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss. They will be discussing the future of our trade and investment relationship…”
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