Obnoxious Behaviour Against Sri Lanka

4 mins read

Sri Lanka is a resilient nation. That’s almost a given. A constant. All talk of peace, human rights, democracy, good governance, reparations and other such goodies emanating from Washington, London and other empiric capitals are disingenuous and laughable. Constant. Meddling, self-righteous and downright obnoxious North American and European diplomats: well, almost par for the course, with the US and UK specimens ensuring an above average score on such attributes.

Sessions of the UNHRC. The USA and others in the global thugs club bad-mouthing Sri Lanka while Russia and China lauding the restraint shown in dealing with brigands, highway robbers, arsonist and murderers operating under the, yes, legitimate banner of agitation. Yes, the kind of restraint that the USA never exercised when dealing with protests and not just the Capitol Hill theatrics of Trumpites. Constants, all.

And India! The country that reneged on the very agreement her leaders penned and stuffed down a pliant, unimaginative and clueless J R Jayewardene demanded that Sri Lanka implement in full the illegal 13th Amendment. This is what the Indian delegate told the UNHRC: ‘India seeks full implementation of the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, delegation of powers to Provincial Councils and holding of Provincial Council elections at the earliest.’ No one, not even the diehard federalists and separatists either operating as pawns of India and the rogue nations of North America and Western Europe or are downright communalists have uttered one word calling for PC elections. Not a word about democracy being challenged by elections not being held. And yet, India wants Sri Lanka to inhabit India’s version of Sri Lankan reality. Constant.

To nutshell-capture, North America, Western Europe and India closed ranks against Sri Lanka while Russia and China, despite being snubbed no end by leaders without backbone defended Sri Lanka resolutely. Constants.

We could add to that Colombots, Candle-light Ladies, Rent-a-Protest Agitators, Funded Voices and other Kolombian sects. They’ll cheer most things that carry a Western/White token. They’ll wax eloquent about colonial rule, praising ‘accomplishments’ such as roads and railways, never mind that these were the yield of taxes paid and labor provided by Sri Lankans. They mourn the death of a woman who was the beneficiary and symbol of genocide and plunder. Constant.

So why bother talking about such things, one may ask. Well, certain things need to be reiterated and placed on record simply because we can forget to remember history. Simply because we can be fooled by sweet-talk. Simply because true citizenship requires us to observe, understand, share and agitate, one way or another.

A single example would do, actually. A two syllable name, actually. China. Now we know that China, a country which along with Japan owns US and Western European debt, is the No 1 target for Washington’s spin doctors. In fact US foreign policy in 2022 seems to be framed by a desperate need to vilify that country. So it should not come as a surprise that an outfit outrageously named Freedom House (it is primarily funded by USAID and the US State Department!) has ‘found’ that ‘Pro-Beijing influencers have increased their activities in the social media space—particularly their outreach to younger Sri Lankans—and new agreements with elites, including in the think tank space, have shaped conversations in the media.’

This is not outrageous, it is hilarious. When have US influencers ever held back their activities, in social and mainstream media? Washington, directly (through the Embassy) and indirectly through the latest avatar of the CIA, the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has its proverbial fingers thick in the Sri Lankan media space. Verite Research and Advocata, if they are honest, can do some insightful research on the subject.

When have US influencers ever neglected younger Sri Lankans (and young people in other countries similarly targeted)? Just the other day Julie Chang, now quite adept at putting her feet in her mouth, confusing ‘danger’ with ‘dangerous’ when tweeting about peacocks, was bragging about young people in the strangely named ‘American Corner Matara.’ What Canada, Central America and South America would have to say about pernicious appropriation of the proper noun ‘America’ we do not know, but while it is bullish to mark territory in that manner, it is not the case that US influencers have limited operations to getting a foothold in the Southern Province. They are as thick as thieves with think tanks, politicians, so-called civil society organizations and media personnel, especially outfits and individuals who believe they are at the epicenter of social change in Sri Lanka. Social change, mind you, is but an easy proxy for ‘change sought by US paymasters.’

Freedom House (sic) is upset by China’s alleged close ties with elites. I suppose they believe the US gives local elites a wide berth. They whine about ‘aggressive diplomatic push on social media.’ Maybe they’ve not heard of Julie Chang and the local foot soldiers hired to do US propaganda. They are also worried about China Radio International reaching out to Sri Lankan audiences in Sinhala. Well, all it means is that the Chinese, if not less vile than the USA, are way smarter. Anyway, it is not that the US has no footprint in Sinhala media or no social media operatives either engaged in China-bashing or genuflecting before Uncle Sam. In Sinhala.

There’s more of course, but it’s all about the US being annoyed that China has cut in on their action. George Carlin, the US comedian once said that wars are mostly about white people killing brown people and the only reason that white nations fought Hitler (a white man who killed white people) was that he had cut in on their action. Same same.

And when Samantha Power, currently attached to USAID, says ‘USA wants countries to be independent, she’s being comic beyond belief. How many countries does the USA have military bases in, Samantha? How many countries have the USA invaded over the last two centuries, or let’s say the last two decades? How many proxy wars has the USA funded? How many terrorists has the US supplied arms to, do you know? How many elections in how many countries has the USA interfered in? How about arm-twisting in multilateral agencies? How about the operations of the CIA and more recently, the NED? And you want countries to be independent? Well, lady, it’s simple. Just leave the room.

All this, pretty consistent with the way the world has been for decades. One difference. The USA is jittery. Now that’s a good sign, not just for Sri Lanka but the entire world. And India, if it wants to do better than the USA, would do well to learn. Things pass. Regimes change. Thugs are ousted. World powers of other eras have been brought to their feet. Such things happen.

Sri Lanka is resilient. That’s a constant that’s not boring. It gives us hope.

Glory of Sri Lanka-China Friendship

2 mins read

Following are the excerpts adapted from the speech by the author at the event held yesterday in Colombo to celebrate the 73rd Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China Hosted by five major friendship organizations working for enhancing Sri Lanka – China friendship.

It brings me great joy and honour to join the Glory of Friendship Reception this evening. The reception is not only a Gala for friends but also a Reunion of families. Because all the guests present tonight from all walks of life in Sri Lanka, have always been following and supporting the development of China and China-Sri Lanka relations! You are the backbone of the friendship between our two people! On behalf of the Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka, I would like to extend my sincerest greetings and most heartfelt thanks to you and your family.

Tonight, we are gathering here to celebrate the 73rd National Day of the People’s Republic of China. Over the past 73 years, China has gone through a long way, with continued hard-working, reforming and opening up, and has risen to the second largest economy in the world. In the past decade, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has made great achievements in various sectors, eradicated absolute poverty, and realized the first centenary goal. All of you have witnessed, participated, and contributed to this great process in human history. At this crucial historical juncture, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held after two more weeks in Beijing. It will not only draw up a new grand blueprint for China’s development but also bring the international community stronger confidence and higher expectation of China. Let’s jointly wish Congress great success!

Tonight, we are gathering here to celebrate the  65th anniversary of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations, and the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact. In the face of the current challenging international situation, the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact, namely “independence, self-reliance, unity and mutual support” becomes ever more significant. And the traditional friendship between our two countries and two peoples is more precious. As we say, amity between the peoples holds the key to better state-to-state relations.

In the past decade, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has made great achievements in various sectors, eradicated absolute poverty, and realized the first centenary goal.

I have been listening carefully to your speeches and stories, and deeply impressed and moved. We sincerely commemorate late Minister Philip Gunawardena and Madam Kusuma Gunawardena who pioneered the exchanges with China, and late Minister R.G. Senanayake who signed the Rubber-Rice Pact for their great contributions to China-Sri Lanka friendship; We are also highly gratified to see pupils from Devi Balika School in Colombo, Caihe No.3 Primary School in Hangzhou and many others from the younger generation, are now carrying forward our friendship in the new era. What a joy!

In the past year,  my colleagues and  I have set foot on all nine provinces of the island. We laid the foundation stone of “Hope Village” in Hambantota down the south, and distributed food packs to estate workers in the central district of Nuwara Eliya. We visited local villages and financed a housing project for underprivileged families on the eastern coast of Batticaloa, and donated fishing gear to poor fishermen in the Northern Province. I feel myself the severe challenges facing Sri Lanka at the moment, but I’m also deeply touched and greatly encouraged by the positive minds of its people. It’s worth mentioning that, when the Chinese Scientific Vessel Yuan  Wang  5 finally docked at Hambantota  Port last month, big crowd from both countries joined me and welcomed the vessel in Hambantota. It makes our belief even stronger that neither the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis, the domestic political change nor the external interference can obstruct the friendly exchanges between our two peoples. Withstood all these challenges, our friendship will only grow unbreakable!

Brothers, Sisters, and friends, Challenges are only temporary, and we will work together to overcome them. Please join me in a toast, To the prosperity of our mother countries; Long live! China – Sri Lanka friendship!

Exclusive: Reaffirming our Unswervingly Stand with Sri Lanka

4 mins read

Following excerpts adapted from the speech by the author as the President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) at the event celebrates the 73rd Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China Hosted by five major friendship organizations work for enhancing Sri Lanka – China friendship.

It is my great honour to be invited to attend the reception hosted by five Sri Lanka friendship organizations with China celebrating the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. On this occasion, I would like to extend, on behalf of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), my cordial greetings and best wishes to the brotherly people of Sri Lanka, and express my heartfelt thanks and high respect to friends from all walks of life who have been long committed to China Sri Lanka friendship.

This year is an important year for both China and Sri Lanka to commemorate.70 years ago, China and Sri Lanka, two newly born countries, overcame difficulties and obstacles and signed the Rubber-Rice Pact, opening the door for friendly exchanges. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 65 years ago, the governments of China and Sri Lanka have always abided by the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, treating each other with equality, mutual trust and sincerity. The two sides understand, respect and help each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns and firmly safeguard our respective and common interests.

Last year marked the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. President Xi Jinping solemnly declared that through the concerted efforts of the Chinese government and people, China has won the fight against poverty on schedule, achieved the first centenary goal on schedule, and built a moderately prosperous society in all respects on schedule. The 1.4 billion people have been lifted from absolute poverty and embarked on the socialist modernization path of common prosperity for all.

Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, China has created two miracles, namely rapid economic development and long-term social stability, which have not only benefited the Chinese people, who account for nearly 20% of the world’s total population, but also provided new options and more cooperation opportunities for developing countries including Sri Lanka. China has become an important force in safeguarding world peace and promoting common development.

For building a better world, President Xi Jinping has put forward the important concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind, as well as new ideas and measures such as the “Belt and Road” Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, and the Global Security Initiative. With the vision of new development, China is committed to win-win cooperation for common development with all countries.

We are pleased to see that important progress has been made in the cooperation of the Belt and Road Initiative under the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.  China has become Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner and a major source of investment and tourism.  Our friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation has brought tangible benefits to the two peoples. Colombo Port City, Hambantota Port comprehensive development project has become a flagship of jointly building the Belt and Road. The project has created more than 100,000 local jobs and trained thousands of technical and management talents and laid an important foundation for Sri Lanka to further realize its independent and sustainable development.

We have noted that “natural disasters” such as the global COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical “man-made disasters” such as the Ukraine crisis are coming one after another.  The security and stability of the global production lines, supply chains and capital chains have been severely undermined. The global energy, food and financial crisis have triggered crises in terms of production, life and survival, especially for the people in underdeveloped countries. Sri Lanka is one of the victims.  In this difficult time, please be assured that the Chinese government and people unswervingly stand with the government and people of Sri Lanka to overcome the difficulties. 

Facts have repeatedly proved that maintaining and developing friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Sri Lanka is conducive to the development of our two countries, conforms to the fundamental interests of the two peoples, and embodies the painstaking efforts of successive leaders of the two countries and the common aspiration of the two peoples.

In more than 10 days’ time, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be convened. The congress will comprehensively and systematically summarize the historical achievements of the past 5 years, and scientifically plan the development goals, tasks, major policies and policies for the next five years and beyond. It will definitely have great and far-reaching significance for China and the world in the future.

The Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries will never forget those old friends and good friends who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of China Sri Lanka friendship over the past decades.  We are very sympathetic to the temporary difficulties faced by Sri Lankan friends. However, we are confident that Sri Lanka will achieve development and revitalization by giving full play to your regional advantages, natural resources and human resources. We are willing to share with Sri Lanka unreservedly China’s experience in reform and opening up and poverty reduction development, provide help to Sri Lankan friends to overcome difficulties, and support Sri Lanka to achieve independent and sustainable development and completely get rid of poverty.

The CPAFFC is willing to work with friends from all walks of life in Sri Lanka, uphold the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact, and actively promote friendly exchanges between local governments, friendly organizations, friendly personages, think tanks, media, youth and other non-governmental areas of the two countries, promote mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, science and technology, culture, education, capacity building and other fields, and contribute wisdom and strength in pushing forward the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership featuring sincere mutual assistance and everlasting friendship to a new level.

I look forward to leading a delegation to visit Sri Lanka at an early date. At the same to time, we warmly welcome all our friends in Sri Lanka to visit China at an appropriate time. Let us work together to create a better future for China-Sri Lanka relations!

May the friendship between China and Sri Lanka last forever! May Sri Lanka enjoy prosperity and its people happy lives!

New Consignment of China’s Medicine Donation to Arrive

1 min read

A new consignment of medicine worth 12.5 million RMB (650 million LKR) donated by China under its 500 million RMB emergency humanitarian assistance has departed Chengdu, China and is scheduled to arrive at Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport on Friday (23rd) evening via a charter flight of Sichuan Airlines.

With a total volume of 60.04 cubic meters and weight of 14.62 metric tons, the consignment consists of:

1) 100,800 PF.Syrs of Recombinant Human Erythropoietin Alpha Injection 4000IU

2) 270,000 doses of Rabies Vaccine for Human Use (Vero Cell) Freeze-dried

3) 4,500 bottles of Fat Emulsion Injection (C14-24)

4) 2,400 vials of Pemetrexed Disodium for Injection-100mg

5) 1,520 vials of Pemetrexed Disodium for Injection-500mg

In the coming months, more medicines and medical supplies with a total value of 5 billion rupees will be handed over to Sri Lanka and delivered to hospitals and patients across the island. The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka will continue working closely with the Sri Lankan authorities to provide more assistance to the Sri Lankan people who are affected by the ongoing difficulties.

China axes Sri Lanka from its Global Development Project

1 min read

The ministerial meeting of the China-led global initiative for livelihood development, the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI) was held under the theme “Deepen GDI Cooperation for Accelerated Implementation of the 2030 Agenda” in New York on 20 September 2022.

The meeting was chaired by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of the People’s Republic of China and attended by high-level representatives of 60 countries, including 4 Deputy Prime Ministers and more than 30 Foreign Ministers as well as principals of about ten international organizations and UN entities.

According to the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People’s Republic of China, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry also joined the meeting on behalf of Sri Lanka, a founding member of the group. During the meeting, the list of the first batch projects in the GDI Project Pool was issued. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka was not selected for any project in the first phase of this global project, whereas Pakistan and Nepal were selected for a few projects to implement.

Click here to see the list of First-batch Projects of the GDI Project Pool

A Preface to Biden’s National Security Strategy

3 mins read

The Biden administration will soon release its National Security Strategy, which is being revised in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The document will no doubt trigger a renewed debate about how the United States should gear up for a new Cold War against Russia and China. But before we plunge into a global great-power competition, it’s worth recalling President Biden’s promise to create a “foreign policy for the middle class” and take a look at what most concerns Americans.

Congress is about to add tens of billions of dollars to the military budget. Unrepentant hawks scorn this as inadequate, urging a 50 percent increase, or an additional $400 billion or more a year. Aid to Ukraine totals more than $40 billion this year, and counting. A new buildup is underway in the Pacific. Biden summons Americans to the global battle between democracy and autocracy, implying that U.S. security depends on spreading democracy—and, implicitly, regime change—worldwide.

Americans, it is safe to say, have different—one might suggest more practical—concerns, as revealed in a recent Quinnipiac University poll. Asked about the most urgent issue facing the country today, 27 percent of respondents—the highest number—ranked inflation as No. 1, while only 2 percent ranked Ukraine at the top. In a range of Economist-YouGov polls over the past month, the top foreign-policy concerns included immigration and climate change.

The foreign policy “blob” may be gearing up for a global Cold War, but Americans are focused on security at home. According to a survey by the nonpartisan Eurasia Group Foundation, nearly half of Americans think the United States should decrease its involvement in other countries’ affairs; only 21.6 percent would increase it. Nearly 45 percent would decrease U.S. troop deployments abroad; only 32.2 percent would increase them.

Polls, of course, are merely snapshots—and war fever can transform opinion. However, a 2021 report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs reported many of the same priorities. Far more Americans (81 percent) said they were concerned about threats from within the country than from outside the country (19 percent). Among foreign policy goals, more than 75 percent of respondents ranked protecting American workers’ jobs and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, respectively, as very important. Ranked lowest were “helping to bring a democratic form of government to other nations” (18 percent) and “protecting weaker nations against foreign aggression” (32 percent).

What would a sensible strategy for the middle class look like? A recent paper from the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft—“Managed Competition: A U.S. Grand Strategy for a Multipolar World”—offers a good start. The author is George Beebe, a former head of the CIA’s Russia analysis unit who is currently director of grand strategy at the institute.

Beebe argues that over the past three decades, “yawning gaps” have emerged not only between “America’s ambitions in the world and its capacity for achieving those goals,” but also between a “Washington foreign policy elite too focused on promoting U.S. primacy” and “ordinary Americans yearning for greater stability and prosperity at home.”

He echoes the priorities of most Americans, arguing that “the chief strategic challenge Washington faces today is not to win a decisive battle between freedom and tyranny but to gain a breathing spell abroad that will allow the country to focus on desperately needed internal recovery.”

He then outlines the core of a strategy for this time: a “managed competition” with Russia and China. Recognizing that our economic health is intertwined with China’s, and that Russia’s nuclear arsenal demands prudence, he would “avoid promoting regime change” or otherwise “undermining political and economic stability in Russia and China.” Instead, in a managed competition, our rivals would be countered not only by American power and alliances, but also by rebuilding “agreed rules of the game,” beginning presumably with efforts to revive nuclear arms agreements and create cyber agreements to limit these growing security challenges.

For this to occur, he notes elsewhere, there must be an agreed end to the war in Ukraine. Beebe concedes that Vladimir Putin’s attack required a strong American-led response. But as when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Beebe would distinguish between repelling Putin’s aggression and efforts to foster regime change in Moscow or to bring Ukraine into the Western orbit.

In the current euphoria over Russian reversals in Ukraine, this caution is likely to fall upon deaf ears. But a foreign policy for the middle class must find a way to curb our adventures abroad so that we can rebuild our democracy and strength at home. A Cold War against Russia and China might empower the foreign policy elite, enrich the military-industrial-congressional complex and excite our bellicose media, but it ignores the American people’s common sense.

This article is distributed by Globetrotter in partnership with The Nation.

Lack of India’s China Card

3 mins read

India missed a good opportunity in nudging the disengagement and de-escalation process at the Samarkand summit last week after China had made a surprise concession of disengaging from Hot Springs three days before the summit. Although Prime Minister Modi avoided eye contact publicly with President Xi, they attended two round table sessions and were present together at two ceremonial photo ops and in one, standing next to each other. But neither leader made any effort for a public handshake or a pull-aside.

Why did China make the disengagement gesture 13 months after the last disengagement and two months after the last Corps Commander’s talks to coincide with the Samarkand summit? Probably to demonstrate that negotiations on disengagement are progressing smoothly. That there would be no disruption from India at the summit on the border row was also on the cards, allusions were not absent. Modi said to Putin: “today’s era is not an era of war” pointed to Xi also. Given that Modi and Xi had cultivated a close rapport after 18 meetings between 2014 and 2019 but none since the LAC brush, it was not unreasonable to expect the effusive and backslapping Modi to extend his hand to Xi during the photo op. (it was he who famously said in June 2020: “no one came inside, nor is anyone inside Indian territory”, to the delight of the Chinese) A day before his 72nd birthday, Modi could not have been seen shaking hands with Xi when the opposition has been gunning for him over losing land to China. But it would have been a risk worth taking. At least the ice could have been broken. Much has been written about the disengagement process since the tragic unarmed Galwan clash. The 1993 and 1996 border protocols and subsequent border agreements of 2005, 2006, and 2012 Border Defence Cooperation Agreements have been violated by China and PLA. The policy change was initiated when Xi, who had been vice president became President in 2013. The modus vivendi to border dispute and bilateral relations initiated in 1988 was torn to shreds in 2020 preceded by ominous indicators at Chumar, Depsang, and Doklam.

Comparing the multiple intrusions of 2020 with Sumdorong Chu in 1988 which took nine years to resolve is patently incorrect. It was a different era when India and China were co-equals economically and militarily.. At Sumdorong Chu, military commanders took bold initiatives in occupying heights dominating PLA intrusions at Wangdung unlike in East Ladakh where Indian forces were caught napping. Dispute resolution resulted in the mutual pullback, prompting then BJP opposition MP Jaswant Singh to remark: “why are we withdrawing from our own territory”.

China has managed to promulgate its 1959 Claim Line from Depsang to Demchok in serious adversity. It is instructive to analyse India’s current self-inflicted dilemma. Unlike in the central and eastern sectors, the LAC is better defined and more settled by the McMahon Line than in the west where the LAC is seriously contested. In the east, our forward posture was triggered off by the PLA intrusions in Sumdorong Chu where defences and posts are close to MacMahon Line. In the west, mainly Leh was defended with vast areas along the LAC unmanned and covered with dispersed ITBP and Army posts from where ITBP and Army patrolled up to the 65 patrolling points up to a line behind the LAC. The Chinese had their own perception of LAC that was never revealed.

In April 2020, in a surprise sweep, PLA easily occupied positions across Indian LAC corresponding to their 1959 Claim Line . The mammoth intelligence failure was compounded by political and operational lapses. After the disengagement from Hot Springs (PP 15) on 8 September which Foreign Minister S Jaishankar called “one problem less”, another buffer zone bereft of patrolling rights has been established on the Indian side of LAC. At Depsang, 18 km on the Indian side of LAC PLA has blocked access to five Patrolling Points and at Demchok to four Patrolling Points. Konchok Stanzin, the counselor for Chushul, said: “our troops have gone back from PP 15 and PP 16 which we had for 50 years, we lost winter grazing ground”. The Chinese have also effectively blocked two Indian offensive launch pads at Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie-virtually transforming the area into 1000 sq km of DMZ.

On 9 May, COAS Gen Manoj Pande said: “We have to restore status quo ante April 2020”. Diplomacy has to be restored to the Xi-Modi level; their 19th meeting could be at the Bali G20 summit in November. Meanwhile, plans should be made to establish BOPs in Ladakh to prevent further salami slicing.

Sri Lanka’s Debt Crisis Cannot be Resolved by China Alone

3 mins read

Sri Lanka’s debt crisis, which led to political upheaval and change of government, is the result of debt accumulation, domestic policy dysfunction and external shocks.

Sri Lanka has long relied on external borrowing to bail itself out of financial crises. It has entered into 15 loan agreements with the International Monetary Fund in 52 years, with the ratio of its external debt to gross national income being above 50 percent for years.

Sri Lanka is a country with not only very high debts but also a very fragile debt structure. Short-term debt and private creditors, which are highly vulnerable to capital flight and interest rate volatility, account for 45 percent of its total external debt, while official creditors, which have low financing costs, long maturity periods and more stable financial flows, account for only 36 percent.

Besides, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have had a huge impact on Sri Lanka’s revenue, for they reduced, almost dried up, the flow of tourists to the country while affecting its tea exports, especially to Russia. That the tourism industry accounted for about 13 percent of Sri Lanka’s GDP and tea was a very big foreign exchange earner before the pandemic shows the importance of these industries. In 2020, for example, the number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka was only about 20 percent of that in 2018.

Wrong macroeconomic policies, too, accelerated Sri Lanka’s economic collapse. After coming to power in 2019, former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa implemented three major policies: tax cuts, printing more currency notes and introducing green agriculture.

While the tax cuts widened the fiscal deficit, with the fiscal revenue to GDP ratio falling from 12.6 percent to 9.1 percent in 2019-20, the government overissued currency notes to fill the funding gap, triggering hyperinflation. As for the green agriculture policy which took effect in 2021, it not only drastically increased farming costs but also halved production, creating an unprecedented food crisis.

As such, Sri Lanka is mired in a debt crisis, economic crisis, and food crisis. To overcome the economic crisis, Sri Lanka must first adopt prudent monetary and fiscal policies, and address the food shortage problem at the domestic level, and to resolve the debt crisis, it should cooperate with the international community.

In 2021, the share of sovereign bondholders in Sri Lanka’s external debt was as high as 47 percent, with China accounting for 10 percent, the Asian Development Bank 13 percent, Japan 10 percent, the World Bank 9 percent, and India 2 percent. Therefore, contrary to some Western politicians’ claim, China is not the largest creditor of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s debt crisis cannot be resolved by China alone waiving its debt.

Over the years, China has been contributing to Sri Lanka’s economic construction and helping improve its people’s livelihoods. The infrastructure projects China has promoted and built overseas have not only reduced construction costs but also are suitable to the respective geographical and climate conditions of the host country, and therefore meet the realistic needs of developing countries.

Moreover, China’s overseas infrastructure projects are accompanied by long-term capital. Accordingly, China’s stable and preferential funds for Sri Lanka’s infrastructure projects were based on the policy of long-term infrastructure investment, high investments and long payback period, which have helped the country overcome many a financial woe and continue on the road to development.

Although China’s funding for Sri Lanka’s infrastructure projects has increased the latter’s liabilities, it has increased its public assets, too, while improving interconnectivity within the country and with the outside world, thereby reducing transportation costs and making the logistics sector more efficient.

China has always pursued an independent foreign policy and follows the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, including non-interference in other country’s internal affairs.

Also, China helped finalize the G20 debt moratorium initiative for least-developed countries in 2020 and the common framework for follow-up after the G20 member states launched a debt service suspension initiative in early 2020 to offer debt referrals to 73 of the world’s poorest countries. In fact, China has suspended the highest number of debt repayments among all G20 members.

The year 2022 marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and China. The two sides have always had close and friendly relations, and promoted the spirit of “independence and self-reliance, solidarity and mutual assistance”.

Since the Sri Lankan crisis broke out, China has sent emergency humanitarian aid worth 500 million yuan ($72.10 million) to Sri Lanka, including medicines, fuel, rice and other urgent necessities to help the country cope with the crisis. And China sincerely hopes Sri Lanka, under the new government, emerges from the crisis, revives its economy and restores peace, stability and prosperity in the country.

Views expressed are personal

This article is a part of the SLG Syndication project. Sun Jingying who is deputy chief of staff of the National Institute for Global Strategy in Beijing, authored this article for China Daily. Click Here to read the original

Trustless Companions

3 mins read

Just a few months back, it was in the news that the US authorities were considering imposing sanctions on India because of its trade ties with Russia. It was all being done as a part of US’ isolation strategy during the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine those days. Situation became more serious when India stood in the line of those 35 countries which abstained themselves from voting at the United Nations against the Russian advancement in Ukraine. Certainly the Indian decision of going against the US will and desire was not very much encouraging rather pleasing for the US authorities, military as well as political. At political level both the Democrats and Republicans raised their concerns about India’s stance of ‘going against the wind’ and it was being apprehended that this decision would create distances between the two countries. It was also in the air that the Biden administration might impose sanctions upon India under the ‘CAATSA law’ which imposes certain restrictions on the countries purchasing defense materials from Russia, North Korea and Iran. The abbreviation CAATSA stands for ‘Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act. But in spite of all these fears and apprehensions, according to some analysts, India is still the ‘blue-eyed boy’ of US and this misconception rather misunderstanding would prove a seriously painful shock to the US policy-makers, somewhere in near or far future.

Meenakshi Ahmed is a renowned expert on India-US relations. She is the author of ‘A Matter of Trust- U.S. India relations from Truman to Trump’. Recently she penned down an article in the Atlantic with the title, ‘America Has Never Really Understood India’. She said, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resurrected Cold War hostilities, harkening back to a world in which the United States saw itself pitted in a Manichaean struggle, facing a choice between good and evil. The U.S. is using similar rhetoric today to persuade countries to isolate and punish Moscow.” She further says, “President Joe Biden has garnered support among his NATO allies to impose crippling sanctions on Russia, but his efforts elsewhere have been only partially successful. Australia and Japan—which, along with the U.S., make up three-quarters of the Quad, a relatively new Asian-security grouping—have signed on, but India, the fourth member of the bloc, has declined to join the chorus of condemnation.” If India were a very serious and sincere partner of the US, it must have been the first one to offer all cooperation in this regard.

In March 2015, Crispin Rovere penned down an article in The Interpreter with the title, ‘India is no ally of the US’. The writer said, “As for India and the US, I find it astonishing that after more than 50 years of being repeatedly burned, some Americans still have not learned their lesson and continue insisting that China and India are ‘natural competitors’. This is false. China and India are historical competitors, but such competition is not necessarily ‘natural’ and certainly nothing like the strategic competition that exists between China and the US. After all, any Chinese expansion in the Western Pacific will be at America’s expense. It is hard to argue that India’s expansion into the Indian Ocean is being actively resisted by China. India is not a pro-Western democratic bulwark, and never will be.”

Last year on April 15, 2021, same apprehensions were expressed by Chirayu Thakkar regarding uncertainty of US-India relations in an article appeared in the Stimson. The writer said, “For the last 20 years, the United States has mostly overlooked its divergences with India in multilateral forums as the relationship paid economic, strategic, and political dividends bilaterally, whereas the costs of divergences at the multilateral level were negligible. In spite of such exceptionalism enjoyed by New Delhi, U.S. diplomats at all levels reminded their Indian counterparts that India’s “obstinate role at the UN was increasingly at odds with our emerging strategic proximity.” With a restructuring of the global order, continuous assault on rules-based order, and China’s rise as a common strategic adversary, the costs of their inability to work together in the global governance arena can be much higher for both countries today.”

‘The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World’ is no doubt a book which must be an eye-opener to all those who are misguided by the notion that India would always remain an ally of the US, keeping all its national interest aside. The book is written by India’s external affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. He has very emphatically tried to explain that India has no plan to align itself fully with either the U.S. or China. He says, “This is a time for us to engage America, manage China, reassure Russia, and bring Japan into play.” Dov S. Zakheim is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and vice chairman of the board for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. In September 2021, his review on Shankar’s book was published in the Hill, in which he tried to make his readers realize that whatever Jaishankar said in his book, must not be taken for granted as he had been a former ambassador to both Washington and Beijing; moreover he is the son of Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam who is recognized as the ‘father of India’s nuclear program’. Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam is the person who maintained close ties with Moscow even as he was perhaps the leading advocate of the 2007 Indo-U.S. Agreement on Civilian Nuclear Cooperation. If such a well-informed and well-connected person does not find harmony in American and Indian interests, it means the actual situation is altogether different from what apparently seems. If India is not fair in its relationship with US, why US is wasting its resources on making India ‘the regional god-father’.

Sri Lanka and China: We Are Stronger Than Ever

4 mins read

        It is a great pleasure to visit the beautiful Eastern Province again after three months. This Saturday (September 10) is the Binara Poya Day in Sri Lanka, which is also the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. I wish all friends and your families a happy festival. There is an old saying in China, “First-time strangers, Second time friends”. The last visit left us a deep impression. Today, seeing your familiar faces and receiving your warm reception once again, I firmly believe that we are already old friends and good friends.

      We Chinese believe in “Promises must be kept and action must be resolute”. During our last visit, Madam Governor and friends from all walks of life in Eastern Province expressed your sincere hope that China will continue to help Sri Lanka especially Eastern Province, further strengthen bilateral cooperation in agriculture, ports, education etc., and to establish sister-provinces relations between Eastern Province and China’s Yunnan Province. My colleagues and I have attached great importance to your requests and initiatives as a priority in our hearts. For the last three months, we’ve mobilized various resources, overcame various difficulties, and achieved various gratifying results with the joint efforts of Sri Lankan colleagues. The first task of my visit is to brief Madam Governor and the people of Eastern Province on the progress of our work.

              In the past three months, we have been busy implementing the 500 million Yuan emergency humanitarian aid announced by the Chinese government to Sri Lanka. Among them, 10,000 tons of rice have been donated to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Education, as 6-months’ school meals for 1.1 million students of 7,900 schools in all 9 provinces including Eastern Province. The first batch of medical supplies donation (510,000 doses of Enoxaparin Sodium Injection) has been handed over to all hospitals across the country including the EP via the Ministry of Health, which is enough for the island’s use for half a year. In June this year, I also attended the 1st anniversary of the China-aided National Kidney Hospital in Polonnaruwa and happy to learn that the first patient to undergo surgery was from the Eastern Province.

              In the past three months, the Red Cross Society of China, China Rural Development Foundation (formerly China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation), China Peace and Development Foundation and other social groups have also donated much-needed food packages to nearly 20,000 underprivileged families of all ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, including $150,000 worth of food for 7,100 Tamil plantation workers families in upcountry alone. In addition, Chinese Foreign Ministry and China’s Buddhism Association have also mobilized about $1.5 million for food and medical grant to Sri Lanka. I believe you will see relevant reports soon.

China’s Yunnan Provincial Gov’t with its Friendship Association has donated 22 Smart Boards for distance education and 70 sets of solar streetlight systems to schools in the Eastern Province in Sri Lanka.

              It is worth mentioning that, encouraged by our embassy and invited by Madam Governor and the Sri Lanka Port Authority, some Chinese enterprises visited Trincomalee Port last month and had a good discussion with the Eastern Province on future cooperation. Besides, the embassy also assisted more than 10 officials and professionals from different circles of the EP to participate in various online workshops or training courses on agriculture and plantation held by the Chinese side. I’m confident that with the improvement of the COVID-19 situation, the two sides will soon be able to resume offline exchanges and cooperation.

              The second task of my visit is to witness, with all of you, the handover of a new batch of grants from China’s Yunnan Province to the Eastern Province. As a follow-up of its food donation worth LKR 55 million to 10,000 families in all the three districts of the Eastern Province in May, the Yunnan Provincial Government is very kind to donate another 22 smart boards worth LKR 21 million and about 70 sets of solar streetlights worth LKR 13 million to more than 20 schools in the province. I sincerely wish the two provinces to establish sister-provinces relations at an early date and bring more tangible benefits to the social development and people’s well-being of the Eastern Province. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Yunnan Commercial Representative Office in Sri Lanka for its continuous efforts and contributions.

              The third task of my visit will be tomorrow. Upon the good suggestion from Madam Governor and the Vice Chancellor, we will re-visit the Eastern University tomorrow to award a total of LKR 4 million of the Chinese Ambassador’s Scholarship to 150 outstanding students of all ethnic groups to support their study and daily life for 7 months. This is the first time that the Chinese Ambassador Scholarship has been particularly issued to the Eastern Province. In addition, to improve the increasing hardship of local fishermen due to various challenges, the Chinese embassy will construct 10 housing units for needy families in Kaluwankerni, Batticaloa district. A brief ground-breaking ceremony will be held in the village tomorrow.

              Over the past three months, there have been many major changes in Sri Lanka and the world. But we are pleased to see that the overall situation of China-Sri Lanka traditional friendship and the momentum of common development have not changed. The mutual understanding, mutual respect and mutual support between our two countries and the two peoples have not changed either. China-Sri Lanka relations have even become stronger under the test of complex internal and external challenges. The main reason is because our bilateral friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples and has become a cross-party, cross-regional and cross-ethnic consensus in both countries. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between China and Sri Lanka, and the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact. Let us walk hand in hand to jointly promote the friendly cooperation between China and Sri Lanka especially the Eastern Province to a new level!

The above article is based on the speech by the author at the Smart Board Donation Ceremony at the Governor’s Secretariat of Eastern Province on 5th September 2022