Middle East

Long shadow of a Sri Lankan dragon

New Delhi: For some South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh, “China Nightmare” is no longer just a bad dream. It is a living reality that continues to threaten national interests and devour their sovereignty.

The fall of Sri Lanka’s dragon into a trap was triggered when China took advantage of the sour relationship between Colombo and Washington to launch an active court against the Mahinda Rajapaksa government from the time it took office in 2005. rice field.

By 2007, the war with the LTTE had intensified and the island nation was facing growing international criticism of human rights issues.

The United States has significantly reduced its foreign aid packages, and aid from neighboring India has been constrained by the sentiment of its hometown Tamils.

The dragon, which was closely watched, stormed in a $ 37 million deal for Chinese ammunition and weapons.

Following this, in 2008, six F7 fighters, a JY-11 radar, and an anti-aircraft gun were presented. By the end of the war with the LTTE in 2009, relations with China had been upgraded to a “strategic cooperation partnership.”

But the most deadly move China made in a strategy game took place in 2007 when Rajapaksa began leasing Hambantota’s land for the construction of a port at a cost of $ 1 billion.

By 2014, China’s aid and financing to Sri Lanka will be an astonishing $ 6 billion, including the Colombo Port City Project (CPCP), the South Container Terminal of Colombo Port, a dedicated investment zone 35 miles from Colombo Port, and a railroad project. Beyond. .. The net was cast.

Now China has begun to get it involved.

President Xi Jinping did just that during his visit to Sri Lanka in September 2014, signing an agreement with a Chinese company operating the now bleeding Hambantota Harbor.

Beijing, which caught its prey under debt, began to harness its power in Colombo, a twisting arm, to anchor a CCP Navy submarine at a port in Sri Lanka during its deployment in the Indian Ocean.

Submarines These submarines, accompanied by rescue ships, have recently invaded the area frequently, and we consider Sri Lanka to be a convenient port of call.

What is interesting here is that Sri Lanka is the only country in the Indian Ocean except Pakistan, and these submarines have entered during the last seven years of deployment.

The shadow of China has also emerged in Sri Lanka’s politics and elections.

Since 2011, China has also influenced Sri Lanka’s foreign policy decisions and has taken control of the government through a rapidly increasing debt trap.

Sri Lanka’s debt to China was over $ 8 billion, and the government’s maneuverability at the time was already quite limited. And, of course, China’s diplomacy was very agile to adjust its front lines to ever-changing dynamics.

In the aftermath of the 2015 elections, China began to open courts not only for political parties, but also for prominent Buddhist clergy in the island nation. This development was due to the realization of the influence of these religious figures in Sri Lanka’s domestic politics.

Other specific factors can push Sri Lanka deep into the dragon’s trap.

Last year, the IMF prematurely terminated a $ 1.5 billion loan program to the island nation. This was accompanied by a Covid pandemic that had a terrible blow to Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.

This “double pain” has ended the idea that Sri Lanka may have been nurturing to save the situation for China.

In March of this year, Sri Lanka announced a $ 1.5 billion currency swap with the Central Bank of China. It also declared a partnership with China by developing two irrigation reservoirs in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sinharaja Conservation Forest.

On June 21, the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) packed a project to build a 17 km elevated road in Colombo. The terms of this project allow the company to fully own the profits and profits for 18 years.

This is the same as CHEC, a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), which leads the Hambantota Harbor Project, Mattala International Airport and the $ 1.1 billion Colombo Port City.

In the 2015 election, a total of $ 1.1 million in payments was linked from CHEC to Rajapaksa’s campaign supporters.

Today, the situation is so severe that China’s oppression has resulted in Sri Lanka retreating from transactions with other countries.

In December 2020, Sri Lanka canceled the $ 480 million compact with the US Millennium Challenge Corporation. In the same month, Sri Lanka also canceled the Colombo East Container Terminal Agreement signed by both India and Japan.

This year, Sri Lanka has made several attempts to show “nonalignment” in strategic projects, but due to China’s influence in Sri Lanka, these efforts currently appear to be very weak.

China’s strategy is a cancer trap that seduces victims when they are the weakest.

But the bait remains constant – money and obvious “soft” loans, thereby confining the government of the day to frivolous infrastructure projects at a “too good and untrue” rate.

The method of involvement is similar in Africa, Asia and Latin America, with countries receiving billions of dollars in loans from China.

Sri Lanka was fed when faced with international criticism of human rights issues, and its strategic allies and neighbors such as the United States and India could not help.

The decisions made by Sri Lankan leaders at the time led to dragons wrapping their prey, and today the island nation is aware that this close grip in Beijing is increasingly limiting its strategic decision-making.

https://www.siasat.com/the-dragons-long-shadow-on-sri-lanka-2251491/ Long shadow of a Sri Lankan dragon

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