How India Can Win Sri Lanka Back—Start with Not Reacting to Its China Ties

Asia's Tech News Daily

© Provided by News18 How India Can Win Sri Lanka Back—Start with Not Reacting to Its China Ties

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had chosen India for his first visit abroad upon assuming office in November 2019 when he pledged to “strive to elevate Indo-Sri Lankan relations to the highest level possible”. This was viewed as a positive development given that in 2013, as defence secretary, he had alleged India’s role in destabilising Sri Lanka — “Had India acted responsibly, Sri Lanka would not have experienced a 30-year war, and India [can] never absolve itself of the responsibility for creating terrorism in Sri Lanka.”

Contrast it with the very first sentence in the statement issued by the Sri Lankan presidential secretariat on October 5: “President tells (visiting) Indian Foreign Secretary — Let’s rebuild the relationship between the two countries that existed in the 60’s and 70’s.” Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had called on the Sri Lankan leader. Such a remark by the head of state of the host nation is somewhat unusual and not a very subtle way of conveying that more needs to be done to infuse warmth in the ties.

ALSO | How India Lost Sri Lanka to China—Starting with Strategic Blunders during Indira Gandhi Regime

The deadpan statement was bereft of the usual diplomatic niceties. It referred instead to bilateral issues and Sri Lanka’s relations with China. The president did extend an invitation, though, to Indian investors. Gotabaya had “expressed his pleasure to meet” even with a BJP member of parliament earlier this month when the discussion was described as cordial by the secretariat.

Clearly, long-standing bilateral issues apart, China’s rapidly growing economic footprint (and political clout as a corollary) in Sri Lanka is straining India-Sri Lanka relations. China is already the largest investor in Sri Lanka, accounting for 23.6 per cent of the total FDI during 2010-2019 as against 10.4 per cent from India. China is also the largest export destination for Sri Lankan goods and holds over 10 per cent of its external debt.

The Rajapaksa brothers are known to be close to Beijing, which is rumoured to have supported the re-election campaign of prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2019, in all manner. Mahinda on the other hand had blamed India’s intelligence agency among others for his defeat in January 2015, stating, “It was very open; Americans, the Norwegians, Europeans were openly working against me, and RAW.” Even so, to his credit, India was not made an issue during his 2019 re-election campaign.

Even though the previous Maithripala Sirisena regime was instrumental in leasing the sensitive Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease, Beijing was rooting for the brothers.

Gotabaya has assured on more than one occasion that “Sri Lanka would not be allowed to be used for any activity that could pose a threat to India’s security, since there is a clear understanding about the geographical location of the two countries”. He also “explained the relationship with China in a comprehensive manner and informed the Indian Foreign Secretary not to have any doubts about it”. However, the ground realities are not very comforting for India.

It is well known how Sri Lanka reneged in February 2021 on an India, Sri Lanka and Japan trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC), to develop and operate the East Container Terminal (ECT) of Colombo Port, on the specious ground that public opinion was opposed to it. This was despite external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s meeting and intervention with Gotabaya a few days earlier.

To contain the damage, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) concluded a deal with India’s Adani Group to jointly develop the West Container Terminal (WCT) at the Colombo port, on a 35-year build-operate-transfer basis.

But next, Sri Lanka awarded a contract for installing hybrid renewable energy systems on the islands of Delft, Nainativu and Analaitivu near Jaffna to a joint venture of Chinese companies. The islands are just 20 nautical miles from Rameswaram (India) and can easily be used as a listening post. Speaking earlier in 2018 to a leading Indian daily, Gotabaya had remarked that India “has to come out of this ‘China phobia’ with regard to its relationship with Sri Lanka”.

Regardless, there is no denying that Sri Lankan comfort level — both of the public and officialdom — especially when it comes to big projects, is higher with China than India. Indian developmental projects do take much longer to be implemented, which dulls the sheen of the good work we are doing in our neighbourhood and beyond.

Take for example India’s humanitarian gesture of announcing 50,000 houses for internally displaced persons in Jaffna area in 2010 (an additional 10,000 were promised in 2017 during PM Narendra Modi’s visit). Granted that there were constraints (there always are), it is difficult to justify a lead time of 5 to 10 years for their construction. I am personally witness to the needless procedural wrangles we got into in the initial years. And, to be clear, we are talking of small and simple dwelling units mostly using local material and manpower. Willy-nilly the beneficiary nations have now also started comparing us with China when the difference appears to be even starker.

There are a number of other complicated issues that are casting a shadow on the ties, including the implementation of the 13th amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution, which envisages devolution of necessary powers to the provincial councils to address the just demand of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace, and respect within a united Sri Lanka. Successive governments have dragged their feet on one excuse or the other. President Rajapaksa is on record having stated that he won without the support of the minorities. India is caught between a rock and a hard place. Neither can she ignore the legitimate aspirations of the Tamilian minorities nor can she push Colombo beyond a certain point.

On the brighter side, there are strong cultural linkages, including the bond of Buddhism between the two neighbours. The largest number of international tourists to Sri Lanka are from India. New Delhi has been trying hard to enhance bilateral connectivity and has been the first responder in times of distress for Sri Lanka. Even so, a perception remains among a section of the majority Sinhala community that India is an interventionist power.

There is no gainsaying that a subterranean trust deficit exists between India and Sri Lanka. The Rajapaksa brothers, who were instrumental in decimating the LTTE and ending the 30-year civil strife, with India’s understanding and support, remain suspicious of New Delhi and desire a visible Chinese presence as insurance. China is only too happy to oblige.

ALSO READ | New Delhi’s Message to Colombo: Walk the Talk on Promises Made to India

Yet the fact of geography is not lost on either side. Neither Sri Lanka nor India can afford to have strained ties. However, as a much larger country, the onus is on India to carry Sri Lanka along. We must be extremely patient and avoid reacting to any pinpricks. We need to engage Sri Lanka even more regularly and closely, especially at the highest levels.

We could step up our people-centric developmental activities while scrupulously staying clear of any interference in Colombo’s domestic affairs. So long as our security interests are not disturbed, we need not react to Chinese advances, which we cannot prevent in any case without causing a lot of rancour. Given Beijing’s authoritarian disposition, our friends will realise sooner than later that all that glitters may not be gold.

The author is Former Envoy to South Korea and Canada and Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Coronavirus News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Telegram.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Banned Terrorist Group NLFT Active in Bangladesh's Chittagong Hill Tracts, BSF Says

© Provided by News18 Banned Terrorist Group NLFT Active in Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts, BSF Says The Border Security Force on Tuesday admitted that the banned terrorist group National Liberation ... Read more »

Indian astronomer reveals why stars are rich in Lithium

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) have discovered clues to the mystery behind the high abundance of Lithium in some evolved stars. The element is found in trace ... Read more »

Weather update: IMD predicts heavy to very heavy rainfall in THESE states, check details

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Over the next few days, several areas across the country is likely to receive very heavy rainfall. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has ... Read more »

No MS Dhoni! Gautam Gambhir picks his four retentions for Chennai Super Kings

© Provided by WION Former India opener Gautam Gambhir recently named four players Chennai Super Kings (CSK) should retain ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) mega auction. November 30 ... Read more »

KL Rahul, Rashid Khan Could Face IPL Ban After PBKS, SRH Accuse Lucknow Of ‘Poaching'

© Provided by MensXP With the Indian Premier League (IPL) retention deadline already upon us, the eight-existing franchises have a crucial decision to make with regards to players they want to ... Read more »

Tejashwi Yadav attacks Nitish Kumar govt after liquor bottles found in Bihar Vidhan Sabha

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav on Tuesday (November 30) targeted Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government after empty alcohol bottles were ... Read more »

Want Oppn unity but won't be anybody's rubber stamp, TMC says amid tussle with Congress

© Provided by The Print New Delhi: Trinamool Congress (TMC) Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien said Tuesday while his party is all for Opposition unity, it is not anybody’s “rubber ... Read more »

No Omicron case detected in India so far, keeping strict vigil: Health Minister in parliament

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday (November 30) said that so far no case of Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected ... Read more »

5 Reasons Why You Need A Pressure Cooker

Call me a romantic (or low maintenance), but the best gift I’ve ever received from my husband was a stainless-steel pressure cooker. It’s my favourite piece of kitchen equipment because ... Read more »

Eight Arrested Following Violent Clash Between Families During Funeral In Ireland

© Provided by Indiatimes A violent clash between two families which took place in September at an Irish cemetery has so far resulted in the arrest of seven men and one ... Read more »

UK politics – live: China mounting ‘large-scale espionage' against UK and allies, says MI6 chief Richard Moore

LIVE – Updated at 12:34 © BBC richard moore mi6.JPG Britain’s top foreign spy has warned of China’s increasingly “large-scale espionage” against the UK and its allies, and signalled that ... Read more »

Worrying signs of lung cancer in arm and shoulder that may be symptom of disease

Lung cancers often spread more quickly than other forms of cancer, with cancer cells spreading through blood into lungs and other parts of the body. This means that this type ... Read more »

Latest Foreign Office advice for France, Spain, US, Dubai and more amidst Omicron outbreak

The Omicron coronavirus variant outbreak has seen countries tightening up their entry rules, from Spain changing its rules for Brits, to Australia delaying the next phase in reopening its borders. ... Read more »

A review of an Edinburgh hotel with a 'golden age of travel' ambience

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo There’s a touch of theatricality to Kimpton Charlotte Square, which sits on the fringe of Edinburgh’s historic New Town. A block north of ... Read more »

Covid Omicron variant: We must all do our bit to deal with this latest challenge – Angus Robertson MSP

The families and friends of those infected will understandably be worried especially since some of those identified have no travel history and must have caught the virus variant in the ... Read more »

Omicron threat: Here's how Delhi is preparing for a potential COVID-19 wave

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday (November 30) announced that his government is taking proactive measures and is prepared to counter another ... Read more »

Brawl breaks out between passengers at airport after flight lands

Multiple fights broke out between passengers at Minneapolis airport after a flight landed on Friday 26 November. © Facebook/Jaziah Petit Multiple fights broke out at the airport – Facebook/Jaziah Petit ... Read more »

Man charged in fatal crash

Nov. 30—LOCKPORT — A Lockport man was arrested and charged on Monday for a fatal crash that killed a woman in a wheelchair on Aug. 20. Lockport police charged Stanley ... Read more »

KWP sasar sifar miskin tegar di Kuala Lumpur

© Provided by Sinar Harian KUALA LUMPUR – Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan (KWP) menyasarkan sifar miskin tegar di Kuala Lumpur pada bulan depan dengan tumpuan bantuan diberi kepada 4,427 keluarga yang ... Read more »

54 slayings, more than 80 charged: As Chicago's gangs have changed, so have federal RICO prosecutions

CHICAGO — The victims met their fates over two decades in every corner of the city: informants shot execution-style, rivals gunned down in barbershops and restaurants, a rapper targeted after ... Read more »

Harga Makanan Keterlaluan Aniaya Pelanggan? Berikut Penjelasan Dr Zulkifli

SEJAK kebelakangan ini, media sosial kecoh dengan cerita harga makanan mahal. Situasi itu menimbulkan perdebatan dan perbincangan hangat dalam kalangan warganet. Masakan tidak, selepas heboh tentang harga ikan siakap ‘kayangan’, ... Read more »

Who's who in Labour's new shadow cabinet?

© Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire PRI212710806.jpeg Yesterday Labour leader Keir Starmer gave his cabinet a big shuffle, promoting some of his MPs to the front benches, shoving some previous frontrunners back ... Read more »

Strictly's Rylan Clark apologises for 'scaring people' and admits he 'wasn't good' after split from husband Dan Neal

Rylan Clark has apologised for ‘scaring people’ during his split from husband Dan Neal. The It Takes Two Strictly presenter, 33, announced earlier this year that he and his husband ... Read more »

Pernah tengok punca air terjun?” Pemuda tunjuk lokasi punca air, ramai tak sangka rupanya dari celah batu, akar

SUNGAI dan air terjun menjadi lokasi riadah dan rekreasi pilihan ramai melepaskan lelah di hujung minggu. Masakan tidak, airnya yang sejuk dan bunyi percikannya memberikan terapi dan ketenangan yang tiada ... Read more »

Cabinet considers Covid-19 measures on child interactions as govt is criticised on antigen test subsidy 'u-turn'

© Alamy Stock Photo THE CABINET IS set to consider a proposal that would see parents advised to reduce their children’s social contacts outside of school. It’s understood that the ... Read more »

Report into cancelled 999 calls says supervision of gardaí 'not followed or not effective'

THE INDEPENDENT REPORT into the controversy surrounding gardaí cancelling more than 200,000 emergency 999 calls says that supervision of officers was either not followed or not effective. An internal garda ... Read more »

Unang paglabas ni Sharon Cuneta sa Ang Probinsyano, kumusta ang ratings?

© Provided by GORGY RULA Nagsimula nang mapanood si Sharon Cuneta sa long-running Kapamilya primetime series na FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano nung nakaraang Biyernes, November 26. Ayon sa AGB Nielsen, nakapagtala ... Read more »

Lucky caller, patapos na ang usapan bago mapansin na si Kuya Wil ang kausap niya

kuya wil Apat na minuto nang kausap ni Willie Revillame ang lucky caller, na ang buong akala naman ay pamangkin niya ang kaniyang kausap na gusto siyang bigyan ng pera. ... Read more »

Filming for Netflix film 'Seoul Vibes' gets cancelled after actor Go Kyung Pyo tests positive for COVID-19

Go Kyung Pyo from IG Filming for the Netflix movie “Seoul Vibes” has been cancelled after its actor Go Kyung Pyo tested positive for COVID-19. According to a Soompi report, ... Read more »

With Galle pitch as his ally, diffident-no-more Permaul stomps all over Sri Lanka

© AFP/Getty Images Veerasammy Permaul picked up his first five-for in Tests © AFP/Getty Images Bowling his eighth delivery of the second day, Veerasammy Permaul comes around the wicket to ... Read more »

PIC: Kareena Kapoor Khan drops glimpse of Taimur as the adorable ‘mama's boy' enjoys playtime

Kareena Kapoor Khan is emerging to be quite the social media star. The diva is quite active on social media and often treats fans to glimpses of her life with ... Read more »

Ankita Lokhande & beau Vicky Jain spotted at Ekta Kapoor's home to give personal wedding invitation; PICS

Ankita Lokhande is among the leading actress of the television industry and was last seen in Season 2 of her successful show Pavitra Rishta. The actress has been dating Vicky ... Read more »

IPL Retention: Jonny Bairstow Set to Leave Sunrisers Hyderabad? Insta Post Suggests

© Provided by News18 IPL Retention: Jonny Bairstow Set to Leave Sunrisers Hyderabad? Insta Post Suggests Jonny Bairstow has hinted that he might be leaving Sunrisers Hyderabad; therefore, he will ... Read more »

Bigg Boss 15 fact check: Did Rashami Desai really touch Umar Riaz' bu**? Here's the truth behind viral video

© Provided by Yes so true Rashami is being so touchy touchy with Umar. When your own fave is a chipku who touches Umar’s butt inappropriately you shouldn’t blame ... Read more »

Dancing On Ice horror as Brendan Cole ‘pops his groin' in nasty accident – and can't practice for WEEKS

DANCING On Ice's Brendan Cole has revealed he's “popped his groin” in a nasty training accident and has been forced to rest for two weeks. The former Strictly Come Dancing ... Read more »

Rylan Clark looks exhausted after awards – as Strictly host makes very early start for TV appearance

RYLAN Clark looked understandably tired as he made he was to Lorraine early this morning after hosting the British Hairdressing Awards late last night. The 33-year-old had an exhausting 24 ... Read more »

ESC speeds up issue of expatriate immigration passes - Hamzah

© Provided by New Straits Times SEPANG: Expatriates arriving in Malaysia through Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) can now obtain Immigration pass stickers at the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) Satellite ... Read more »

Liz Truss Ukraine Russia tank war invasion

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss visits British troops on deployment as a part of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) as they operate alongside other Nato troops in Tapa, Estonia – No10 ... Read more »

Larangan ke Afrika Selatan: Pendirian berasaskan risiko keselamatan

© Provided by Sinar Harian KUALA LUMPUR – Pendirian Malaysia untuk mengenakan larangan perjalanan ke Afrika Selatan bukan dibuat bersandarkan geopolitik atau hubungan dua hala, sebaliknya berasaskan kepada risiko keselamatan. ... Read more »

Pelajar SPM maut ketika pulang dari sekolah

© Provided by Sinar Harian KUALA PILAH – Seorang pelajar Tingkatan Lima yang dalam perjalanan pulang ke rumah selepas menduduki peperiksaan percubaan Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) meninggal dunia kerana terlibat ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic