Ananth Krishnan

BEIJING: Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said “alarmist” and “paranoid” policies of the Home Ministry towards Chinese companies and projects in India were threatening to derail the post-Copenhagen warming of ties between the neighbours.

Mr. Ramesh, in Beijing to attend an international conference on climate change, also said he had faced some opposition from a “suspicious” security and defence establishment in India on taking forward climate co-operation with China, indicating that opinion was sharply divided in the Indian government on how to engage with China.

The December climate summit at Copenhagen, where India and China closely co-ordinated their positions, was seen by officials in the Ministry of External Affairs as helping to turn around bilateral ties following a year of political strain over the border row.

But, Mr. Ramesh warned, “overly defensive” policies of the Home Ministry towards Chinese companies, like telecommunications giant Huawei, recently under the scanner and facing an import ban for security reasons, could “dissipate” the “Copenhagen spirit.”

“There is a large security establishment which is uncomfortable even with the Copenhagen spirit,” he told Indian journalists. “They keep asking me ‘Why are you collaborating with China on climate change?' After all, China is the world's largest emitter, with 23 per cent of the world's emissions, and we [account for] less than 5 per cent. They are asking, why should we collaborate with these guys?”

The Minister, however, suggested there was a “strategic” interest for India in taking forward climate cooperation with China.

He pointed to greater co-operation from China in sharing information on dam projects on the Brahmaputra, which had triggered concerns in India. The muted response from the Chinese government to the reported telecom ban also hinted at a better political atmosphere, he noted.

“The Prime Minister is totally gung-ho on [the Copenhagen spirit],” Mr. Ramesh said. “There is no doubt on it ... The NSA [National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon] is fully backing it. The MEA is backing it. The people with the questions are the Home Ministry and the security establishment.”

More In: Today's Paper