SLG Syndication

SLG Syndication is committed to aggregating excerpts from news published by international news agencies and key insights on contemporary issues published by think tanks. Our aim is to facilitate the expansion of its reach while giving due credit to the original source.

Sri Lanka and U.S. militaries commence CARAT/MAREX Sri Lanka

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps began exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Sri Lanka 2023 with the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) and Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) in Colombo, Jan. 19, 2023.

CARAT/MAREX Sri Lanka is a joint, bilateral maritime exercise taking place ashore in Colombo and at the SLN bases in Trincomalee and Mullikullam. The sea phase will take place in the Laccadive Sea. This year’s exercise includes participants from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Maldives National Defence Force, and coincides with the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations and partnership between the United States and Sri Lanka.

The exercise commenced with an opening ceremony led by Deputy Chief of Staff / Director General Operations of SLN Rear Adm. Pradeep Rathnayake, and Capt. Sean Lewis, deputy commodore of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7.

“CARAT/MAREX Sri Lanka is designed to exchange ideas as well as tactics,” said Lewis. “We will practice interoperability and strengthen our interpersonal relationships — both at sea and in port.”

Sri Lanka Navy offshore patrol vessels SLNS Gajabahu (P 626) and SLNS Vijayabahu (P 627) will meet the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23), with embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), at sea. Training will focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as well as air defense, small boat operations, and replenishment-at-sea approaches.

“I believe each event perfectly reflects the excellent collaboration between our forces and emphasizes our partnership in promoting regional security, combining knowledge, skill and understanding of goals, cultures and ideals,” said Rathnayake.

The shore phase trainings will consist of classroom subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE), practical education, and a Women, Peace and Security roundtable hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung. Highlights will include a series of public performances and exchanges between both country’s navy bands, a sports day, and a series of community service activities, as well as SMEEs on issues like diving and underwater construction, medical support, and maritime domain awareness.

“For seventy-five years, Sri Lanka and the United States have worked together to preserve an international community in which diverse sovereign states can unite to work with each other while maintaining their own respective identities,” said Rear Adm. Derek Trinque, commander, Task Force (CTF) 76/3. “CARAT/MAREX Sri Lanka will help us move in unison toward achieving our shared goals of safety and prosperity.”

Additional participating U.S. assets include a P-8A Poseidon and personnel from U.S. 7th Fleet, Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72, CTF 73, CTF 76/3, DESRON 7, and Amphibious Squadron 7.

CARAT/MAREX Sri Lanka is a bilateral exercise between Sri Lanka and the United States designed to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships, and enhance maritime interoperability.

In its 28th year, the CARAT series is comprised of multinational exercises, designed to enhance U.S. and partner navies’ abilities to operate together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with Allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

UN Human Rights Office comments on Sri Lanka Supreme Court ruling

The Human Rights Office notes the decision by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka directing senior government officials, including a former President, to compensate the families of the victims of Easter Sunday attacks in 2019, and urges Sri Lanka to provide full reparations to the victims, including to establish the truth and to ensure justice.

The Court unanimously held that former President Maithripala Sirisena, the former defence  secretary and two other former security and intelligence officials had violated the fundamental rights of the victims by failing to prevent the attacks, and ordered them to pay personally into a victims’ fund to the value of nearly USD 850,000. More than 270 people were killed in the series of explosions at churches and hotels across the country. In a previous decision, the Supreme Court found that proceedings against the current President, who was the Prime Minister at the time of the attacks, could not continue given the immunities that he enjoys while in office.

Whilst no amount of compensation can ever erase the suffering and pain of the victims and families, this judgment marks a step in the victims’ struggle for recognition of the harm suffered and their rights to truth, justice and reparation. The UN Human Rights Office calls on the Government to ensure that victims receive adequate compensation and that they and their representatives are fully consulted in the disbursement of the funds.

In its judgment, the Court expressed “shock and dismay” at the lack of “oversight and inaction” by the security and intelligence officials – ruling that the former President and his top security officials had failed to prevent the attacks, despite detailed intelligence suggesting such attacks were imminent.

The UN Human Rights Office reiterates its recommendations to the Government of Sri Lanka to release the complete findings of previous inquiries into the Easter Sunday bombings and to establish a follow-up independent, thorough and transparent investigation with international assistance and the full participation of victims and their representatives and to hold all those responsible fully to account

Sri Lanka and U.S. Militaries Commence Joint Training Exercise


The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps will commence exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Sri Lanka 2023 with the Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Air Force in Colombo, Jan. 19 – 26, 2023.

CARAT/MAREX Sri Lanka is a bilateral exercise between Sri Lanka and the United States designed to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships, and enhance maritime interoperability.  This is the fifth CARAT/ MAREX exercise between the United States and Sri Lanka, and this year includes participants from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Maldives National Defence Force.  Training exchanges will occur in Colombo and on the Sri Lanka Navy bases in Trincomalee and Mullikullam.

“The United States, in our 75th year of bilateral relations with Sri Lanka, is proud to partner with the Sri Lanka Navy and the Sri Lanka Air Force for this training.  These yearly exercises are an important opportunity for training to prepare for disaster relief and maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.  We are grateful for the invitation to host the exercise together,” said U.S. Ambassador Julie Chung regarding the upcoming exercise.

The week-long exercise is designed to enhance U.S. and partner navies’ abilities to operate together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and build relationships through sports, cultural, and information exchanges.  In addition to training for humanitarian disaster relief and lifesaving training, U.S. and Sri Lankan servicemembers will participate in a Women, Peace and Security roundtable with the Ambassador Chung.  During the exercise, the 7th Fleet Navy band, in partnership with the Sri Lankan Navy band, will give a series of free performances in Colombo.

Statement issued by the US Embassy in Colombo

Diplomacy: Malwathu Mahanayake Meeting Chinese Delegation

On 11th January 2023, Chargé d’affaires Hu Wei of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka called on the Mahanayake Thero of the Malwathu chapter of Siam Nikaya, Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero in Kandy. They had a friendly conversation about the millennia close exchanges between the two peoples and Buddhist communities of the two countries, as well as China’s firm support to all walks of life in Sri Lanka to fight against COVID-19 epidemic and the economic crisis. The issue of the 14th Dalai Lama’s intention to visit Sri Lanka was also discussed.

Chargé d’affaires Hu Wei stated that the government and people of China including in the Tibet Autonomous Region strongly oppose any foreign country to receive the Dalai Lama in any name, because the 14th Dalai Lama is absolutely not a “simple monk” as he self-claimed, but the head of the feudal serfdom and the theocracy in Tibet prior to 1951, a political exile disguised as a religious figure who has long been engaging in anti-China separatist activities and attempting to split Tibet from China.

Smashing the lies of the Dalai Lama group, the Chinese Chargé d’affaires briefed the Mahanayake Thero that in the Dalai Lama era, about 1 million people were serfs accounted for 95 percent of Tibet’s population. Its GDP was only 129 million RMB and the Life Expectancy was only 35.5 years (in 1951). Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Tibetan people are now enjoying a prosperous economy with a GDP of 210 billion RMB (31 billion USD) and the GDP per capita of USD 8,000 (twice of Sri Lanka and 4 times of India where he resides now), longevity of 72.19 years on average and freedom of religion with 46,000 monks and nuns in over 1,700 temples in Tibet.

Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Tibetan people are now enjoying a prosperous economy with a GDP of 210 billion RMB (31 billion USD) and the GDP per capita of USD 8,000

Hu emphasized that China and Sri Lanka have been firmly supporting each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests, including the Tibet related issue. Both sides especially the Buddhist communities must prevent a sneaky visit of the Dalai Lama to the island to promote “Tibetan independence” and safeguard the China-Sri Lanka historical relations from being damaged.

The Malwathu Mahanayake Thero highly appraised the close friendship between Sri Lanka and China dated from Ven. Faxian Thero’s visit to the island 1,600 years ago, and China’s continued support to Sri Lanka since the latter’s independence, particularly in Mme. Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s time. In the last three year fighting against the COVID-19 and economic crisis, China has been assisting us with numerous of PPEs, vaccines, rice, diesel etc., which is fully appreciated by the Sri Lanka people including the Maha Sangha.

Recalling his several visits to China including one Buddhist exchange tour in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero expressed his high appreciation on China’s economic and social development, and the freedom and prosperity of Buddhism in the oriental country. “I still remember visiting an ancient temple on top of a high mountain in Tibet. The scenes, the statues and the low level of oxygen are unforgettable. It’s quite different with what the western media portrays” said the Mahanayake Thero.

Commenting on the rumor of several monks inviting Dalai Lama to visit the island, the Chief Prelate stressed that “China is the closest friend of Sri Lanka. Our relations with China must not be hurt. It is better that government also understand the importance of contribution rendered by China for the upliftment of Sri Lankan economy. We as Sri Lankan always indebted to China for their continued support and humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka whenever we are in need. Seeing is believing. I hope more Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis from Sri Lanka could visit China, and more devotees from China could visit Sri Lanka and the Malwathu Maha Viharaya.”

Chargé d’affaires Hu Wei also paid courtesy calls to Ven. Dimbulkumbure Wimaladhamma Thero, Anunayake of Malwathu chapter and Ven. Wedaruwe Upali Thero, Ven. Anamaduwe Dhammadassi Thero, Anunayakes of Asgiri chapter on the same day.

Statement issued by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: End Arbitrary Detention of Student Activist

The Sri Lankan government should immediately end the arbitrary detention of Wasantha Mudalige, a student activist who was arrested on August 18, 2022, 7 human rights organizations said today. Since August 21, Mudalige, 29, has been held on orders signed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), a draconian law that the government has long promised to repeal.

A hearing on Mudalige’s bail application has been scheduled for Hulftsdorp Magistrates Court on January 17, 2023. Under the PTA, the court does not usually grant bail if the Attorney General’s Department, acting on the government’s behalf, opposes it.

The Sri Lankan government detained Mudalige as part of its crackdown since an economic crisis in 2022 sparked largely peaceful protests demanding governance reform and action against alleged official corruption. The government responded by giving sweeping powers to the police and military, which used unnecessary and excessive force to disperse demonstrations and arrest hundreds of people, including many students.

Many of those detained have since been released on bail. However, the authorities have used extraordinary powers under the Prevention of Terrorism Act to keep Mudalige in detention despite having produced no evidence of any involvement in “terrorism.” As convenor of the Inter University Students’ Federation, he had taken a prominent part in the protests. Much of the time he has been held in solitary confinement and poor conditions, which can violate the prohibition on torture or other ill-treatment under international human rights law.

In December, Mudalige required hospital treatment for breathing difficulties. His family and his lawyer have expressed concern for his safety and his health in detention. On October 4, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka issued a notice calling for the police to protect Mudalige’s safety in custody.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act allows for up to a year of detention without charge on the orders of the defense minister, who is currently President Wickremesinghe. Since it was introduced as a “temporary” measure in 1979, the law has been used particularly to target members of the Tamil and Muslim communities, and to stifle dissenting voices including journalists and human rights defenders. The United Nations and human rights groups have repeatedly documented that the PTA has been used to enable prolonged arbitrary detention and torture or other ill-treatment.

Successive Sri Lankan governments, including the present administration, have repeatedly pledged to repeal the PTA and replace it with rights-respecting legislation – most recently to the European Union in October. Yet the government continues to use the law to violate human rights, in breach of its own domestic and international commitments.

On August 18, the authorities arrested Mudalige along with 19 other people during a protest in Colombo that the police violently disrupted using excessive force. Two others arrested that day were also detained under the PTA, but both have since been released without charge. Hundreds of people arrested under ordinary criminal legislation for offenses allegedly committed during the 2022 protests, such as damage to public property, have also been released on bail.

During the first three months of his detention, Mudalige was shuttled between two detention centers run by the police Terrorism Investigation Department. One is a dilapidated and abandoned prison unfit to hold prisoners. He and the other detainees were held in solitary confinement, in cramped cells without access to basic facilities including sanitation and sunlight. Holding people in such conditions violates the international legal prohibition on torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.  Prisoners suffered ill health, apparently as a result of the conditions in the jail and lack of treatment.

The abuse of counterterrorism legislation to arbitrarily detain a student activist involved in non-violent protest has a chilling effect on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, the groups said. President Wickremesinghe has called anti-government protesters “terrorists” and “fascists,” and threatened to renew a state of emergency and redeploy the military if fresh protests emerge amid the ongoing economic crisis. The authorities have continued to pursue other activists alleged to have participated in the 2022 protests.

On December 14, Mudalige was taken before a magistrate for the first time since he was detained. The magistrate ordered the attorney general to submit any evidence against Mudalige at the next hearing, on January 17, or to agree to bail. On January 5, the police took Mudalige before a magistrate and introduced new cases against him under ordinary criminal laws, related to other protests in which he purportedly participated in 2022.

The authorities have targeted Mudalige in the past for his activism. On August 3, 2021, he was arrested and jailed for more than three months after protesting for the right to free education. Thirteen human rights organizations issued an appeal against his detention.

The Sri Lankan authorities should immediately impose a moratorium on the use of the PTA, and promptly repeal it, the groups said. The authorities should immediately review the detention of  anyone held under the PTA, ensuring adequate access to fair bail hearings. They should also release all protesters facing charges that do not meet international standards.

The government of Sri Lanka should fully respect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Joint statement issued by Amnesty International, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Frontline Defenders, Human Rights Watch, International Working Group on Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice

GTF welcomes targeted sanctions imposed by Canada on Sri Lankans

The following statement issued by the Global Tamil Forum

In a historic decision, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly, announced (Jan. 10, 2023) that Canada was imposing sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act against Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, for gross and systematic violations of human rights during the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. The sanctions were also imposed on Sri Lankan Army Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake and Navy intelligence officer Lieutenant Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi. Sanctions imposed on Sri Lankan state officials –

The same two military officials were previously sanctioned by the US (Dec. 2021) for serious human rights abuses. Additionally, US sanctioned two more Sri Lankan military officials in the past – former army commander Shavendra Silva (Feb. 2020) and head of a clandestine army platoon Prabath Bulathwatte (Dec. 2022).

GTF congratulates and appreciates the actions of the US and Canadian governments and for standing up for justice, rule of law and democratic principles including accountability. GTF is also grateful to all concerned including political and non-political persons and organisations, human rights activists in Sri Lanka and overseas, Tamil diaspora organisations and many others who are working very hard for justice for victims of war.

Clearly a pattern is emerging. After more than a decade of inaction by the Sri Lankan authorities to address war time accountability, the international community is starting to take unilateral initiatives. But what distinguishes the Canadian action is the inclusion of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the list. They were the President and the Defence Secretary during the last phase of the war (which ended in May 2009), with command responsibilities.  

Sri Lankan civil war was one of the most brutal in the recent history, with UN reporting killings of 40,000 to 70,000 civilians in the last phase alone (other estimates place much higher figures), which was attributed mainly to the brutality of Sri Lanka’s military strategies, and unlawful killings and disappearances.

The Canadian Foreign Minister was emphatic, stating “These sanctions send a clear message that Canada will not accept continued impunity for those that have committed gross human rights violations in Sri Lanka.” Undoubtedly, the walls of impunity Sri Lanka painstakingly built around its leaders have started to crumble.

The timing of the sanction appears to reflect the lack of faith on the new Wickremesinghe Administration to reverse course (from that of its predecessor) on human rights and accountability. Human Rights Watch in its latest World Report (Jan. 12, 2023) argued that ‘the change of Presidents of Sri Lanka in 2022 did not lead to any improvement in the country’s human rights record”, further reinforcing the hopeless situation the country finds itself in.

It is important to highlight the plight of many victims and their families who have been waiting for more than thirteen years without accountability or justice, and the many who have passed on without knowing what happened to their loved ones. The Canadian action provides a sense of relief and perhaps even hope that justice may one day be possible.

Equally important is the message the Canadian sanction conveys to the people and leaders of Sri Lanka – hoping that with diversionary and delaying tactics the accountability concerns will disappear over time is doomed to fail and the better course of action would be to deal with the past openly and honestly, to build a strong and prosperous country for all its communities.

Canadian action also sends clear warning signs to many political and military leaders across the world that serious human rights abuses and unaccountable governance practices will have consequences – irrespective of the time it takes or the high positions the concerned individuals may have occupied.

Respect for human rights and effective universal accountability mechanisms are fundamental building blocks for a rule based world order and green shoots appearing across different countries in this regard provide hope for the emergence of a more decent world in the future.

It is in this context that the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) welcomes the historic decision by the Canadian government to sanction two former Sri Lankan Presidents, and calls upon other progressive countries, including India, the US, EU, UK, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Australia and New Zealand, to consider appropriate actions that will resonate with the Canadian initiative.


BRI and a Better Future for Sri Lanka

Acknowledging the positive role that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) play in the economic development of Sri Lanka, the Belt Road Initiative, Sri Lanka (BRISL) held a three-day seminar at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo from the 27th to the 29th of December, themed: “BRI and a Better Future for Sri Lanka.” Organised with the objectives of alleviating misconceptions, countering harmful narratives, and enhancing knowledge on BRI and its impact on Sri Lanka through dialogue and deliberation between university students, academia and other stakeholders, the seminar featured presentations and experience-sharing exercises by form of field visits to key China-Sri Lanka joint development projects in the heart of Colombo. Participants were given the unique opportunity to visit project locations such as the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) and the Colombo Lotus tower and monitor internal operations that are not open to the public, to better understand the operational dynamics of internationally acclaimed BRI projects, while interacting with senior members of the staff. Further, the seminar provided the participants with an opportunity to acquire an overview of the professional skills necessary for career success in preparation of their employment prospects in the future. The BRI Seminar Series intends to provide a platform biannually for undergraduates representing all regions of the island to critically discuss and form objective viewpoints on the BRI.

The informative seminar was held with the participation of 25 undergraduate student delegates from state universities across the island, including the Department of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences – University of Kelaniya, the Department of International Relations, Faculty of Arts – University of Colombo, the Department of Economics, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences – University of Ruhuna and the Department of Economics, Faculty of Commerce and Management, the Department of Economics, Faculty of Arts and Culture – Eastern University of Sri Lanka.

Mr. Hu Wei, Chargé D’affaires of the Embassy of the Peoples’ Republic of China in Colombo, greeted the visiting student delegation and hosted a dinner on the 26th of December at the Shangri La Hotel, Colombo. Making his remarks at the occasion, Mr. Wei appreciated the initiative taken by BRISL to bridge the knowledge gap between ordinary Sri Lankans and their perceptions of BRI projects in the island and recognised the need for learned discussions at university and academic levels to improve Sri Lanka’s standing as a key regional beneficiary of the BRI. Mr. Maya Majueran K of BRISL emphasised the importance of the seminar in offering practical experience relating to strategic projects of the BRI to undergraduates. He also invited the participants to study the importance of Sri Lanka being a BRI partner, based on factual information.

The three-day seminar was enriched with the presentations made by key academics and practitioners in the disciplines of international relations and economics, whose analytical and thought provoking presentations and knowledge sharing stimulated rich discussions amongst participants. Day one of the seminar series saw presentations from Prof. Samitha Hettige, Professor of Management and Dr. George Cooke, diplomatic historian and senior lecturer at the Department of International Relations, University of Colombo, who set the foundation for the direction of the seminar through historic evidence of China-Sri Lanka relations. The presentations unravelled misconceptions of how BRI and China’s investments are seen as a novel phenomenon. Policy Analyst and Economist at the UNDP, Dr. Vagisha Gunasekara and Prof. Sirimal Abeyratne, Chairman of the Stakeholder Engagement Committee of the CBSL and Professor in Economics, University of Colombo, in their presentations on day two of the seminar delved into differentiating between Chinese investments, loans, and grants. The speakers stressed the importance of BRI to Sri Lanka in elevating itself as a key trade partner to China, the equalisation of Sri Lanka’s infrastructure to its regional peers to facilitate trade and the necessity for far-seeing, consistent national policies to better benefit from foreign loans and development projects, while meeting Sri Lanka’s interests. On day three of the seminar, Mr. Umesh Moramudali, lecturer at the University of Colombo, and Mr. Thilina Panduwawala, head of economic research at Frontier Research, presented their paper titled “Evolution of Chinese

Lending to Sri Lanka Since the mid-2000s – Separating Myth from Reality,” in which they established that 19.6% of Sri Lanka’s external debt is owed to Chinese financing entities, a figure higher than often thought to be. However, the paper highlighted that China’s financial assistance and loans to Sri Lanka does not possess any ‘hidden debt’ as often erroneously reported. Making the last presentation of the seminar, Mr. Cheng Huaqiang, Deputy General Manager of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) – International, South Asia, and Mining Engineer Mr. Kanishka Chathuranga gave an overview of how the cooperation has facilitated BRI initiatives in Sri Lanka through building infrastructure while indirectly benefiting local workforce through technology and skills transfer and experience sharing. All presentations were followed by interactive Q&A sessions moderated by Mr. Yasiru Ranaraja and Mr. Maya Majueran K, founding directors of the BRISL. The student delegates actively took part in discussions to pose questions, initiate discussions, and critically analyse the presentations made.

With the view of enhancing practical knowledge and experience sharing, and to learn first-hand the benefits of BRI related investments and projects, the afternoon sessions of the three-day seminar were reserved for field visits. At Huawei Technologies Lanka, the undergraduates were debriefed by Mr. Liam Liang, deputy CEO for Enterprise Business, Mr. Christophe Lee, Director Public Affairs and Communication, Mr. Nadun Gunawardana, Head of Solutions for Enterprise Business and Mr. Sameera Antony, Senior HR Operations Manager, on the technological service provider’s ongoing work to narrow the digital divide in the country and digitise essential services with state and private sector partners. Ms. Nicole Dunuwila, Regional Manager Investment Promotion & Marketing (South Asia) for the Colombo Port City provided a tour of the project facilities and explained the future vision in developing the location to a world-class commercial and residential hub. At the Colombo Lotus Tower, Site Manager, Mr. Jiao Zhichao of the China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation, provided the undergraduates access to the restricted control rooms to witness first-hand, the complex operations powering the tower. Chief Executive Officer of the CICT, Mr. Jack Huang greeted the delegation and shared his expertise on the dealings of the CICT and its strategic value to Sri Lanka with lessons for better integration with state actors for increased trade. The Finance Manager of the CICT, Mr. Don Jayawardene, Mr. Grant Yang, General Manager of the Admin Department and the Deputy Manager of the Commercial Department, Mr. Chandima Seneviratne also provided insights into CICT’s contribution to the Sri Lankan economy. Undergraduate delegates were encouraged to engage with staff to reflect on how future academic and employment prospects could be enhanced, while gaining in-depth knowledge of the operations of each facility and their strategic importance as part of the BRI.

The three-day seminar concluded on a high note on the 29th of December with the participation of officials from the Chinese Embassy in Colombo, resource persons and media. Participants representing all attending universities commented on the quality and the nature of the seminar that enabled objective and critical discussions to allow for shaping calculated, unbiased, and informed opinions on the BRI and its role in Sri Lanka’s development ambitions, which are often clouded with unsubstantiated narratives and accusations, serving interests of vested parties. Dignitaries attending, encouraged the undergraduates to read and enhance their knowledge using a range of sources that go beyond mainstream narratives and to act as ambassadors of the BRI – Sri Lanka partnership for “mutual benefits and win-win cooperation.”

BRISL successfully organised the first of the biannual seminar series with the valuable support from the Embassy of the Peoples’ Republic of China in Colombo. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka, Colombo International Container Terminals Ltd, China Harbour Engineering Company, China Merchants Port Holdings Company Ltd, CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd, Huawei Technologies Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, Colombo Lotus Tower, and China State Construction Engineering Corporation graciously supported the initiative.

Belt & Road Initiative Sri Lanka (BRISL) is an education and consulting platform that specialises in educational, cultural, business and technological cooperation under the BRI. Involved in assisting think tanks, media, research institutions, government agencies and the corporate sector in forging valuable partnerships, BRISL create linkages with China and rest of the world to tap emerging opportunities from developments taking place under BRI and beyond. Their portfolio includes education services, research, business tourism and promotion, event management, corporate training and business missions to create business opportunities for companies, particularly Micro, Small and Medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Brazil: US Sponsored Coup d’état against Public Verdict


The coup attempt is underway in Brazil by supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro. Today, a far right mob numbering in the thousands stormed the headquarters of the Supreme Court, Presidency, and Congress of Brazil in the capital and ransacked them. They are calling for military intervention against the government of president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva of the progressive Workers Party, who defeated Bolsonaro in democratic elections held last year.

Right now, Jair Bolsonaro is in the United States, having fled here right before Lula assumed office last Sunday. Anderson Torres, formerly Bolsonaro’s Justice Minister who was appointed the Minister of Public Security of the capital city Brasilia last week, is also in the United States. Torres appears to have played a key role facilitating today’s attack, and Bolsonaro has clearly been intentionally laying the political basis for such a coup attempt for months with his false claims of election fraud. Neither should be given safe haven by the government of the United States – they should face justice in Brazil for their crimes.

Brazil’s Congress, Presidential Palace, and Supreme Court headquarters are located in a single plaza in Brasilia, whose governor is a Bolsonaro supporter. A mob of thousands with the apparent assistance of some elements of the security forces gathered today and marched on the plaza. Gleisi Hoffmann, the head of the Workers Party, stated that, “The [Federal District] government was irresponsible in the face of the invasion of Brasília and the National Congress. It is a crime against democracy.”

Lula was out of the capital, assisting victims of flooding in the city of Araraquara. Several hours after the attack, he addressed the nation and announced that he was mobilizing federal security forces to reestablish order and defend democracy in the face of this outrageous assault. “Those people we call fascists, the most abominable thing in politics, invaded the [presidential] palace and Congress,” Lula said, and denounced the, “incompetence and bad faith of the people who take care of the security of [Brasilia]”. Earlier in the day, Minister of Justice Flávio Dino pledged that, “This absurd attempt to impose their will by force will not prevail.”

Bolsonaro appears to be isolated internationally, but not because he is an opponent of the United States and other imperial powers — even the Biden administration and other western governments know that openly supporting a Bolsonaro putsch, just after his electoral defeat, would only further destabilize and discredit imperialism in Latin America and worldwide.

This coup attempt comes as Brazilian politics is at a crossroads. From 2019 through the end of last year, Bolsonaro’s government has pursued policies that caused disaster after disaster in Brazil. He is responsible for criminal mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic, anti-worker economic policies, massive environmental destruction, and much more. He has promoted vicious, deadly racism targeting Afro-Brazilians and Indigenous Brazilians, and espouses disgustingly bigoted views against women and LGBTQ people.

Bolsonaro’s fascistic tendencies have deep roots in Brazilian politics – he is a supporter of the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985, which was an ally of the United States. Lula emerged as a national political figure as an opponent of this murderous regime, and the people’s movements of Brazil remain determined to defend hard-won democratic rights.

Bolsonaro’s rise to power was made possible by the parliamentary coup that removed the Workers Party from power in 2016. Then-president Dilma Rousseff was impeached from office on trumped-up charges by the right wing-controlled Congress. And in a plot that has now been exposed to the public, right-wing prosecutors and judges conspired to manufacture bogus corruption charges against Lula, the most popular political figure in the country who had led the first Workers Party administration from 2003 to 2010. In 2018, Lula was sent to prison on these completely baseless accusations. This prevented him from participating in that year’s presidential election, where all the polls predicted him prevailing over Bolsonaro.

But thanks to a mass movement of people in Brazil, joined by supporters the world over, Lula was freed from prison in 2019. He won last year’s presidential election, pledging to rebuild the country after the devastation of the Bolsonaro years, implement social programs to tackle hunger and poverty, and pursue an independent foreign policy that supports the unity of Latin America. The events of today are a desperate attempt by the far right to overturn the democratic will of the majority of Brazilians.

[Article based on the statement issued by the Party for Socialism and Liberation]

Why are we confident about China’s economy this year?


China’s economy, the second largest in the world, has always been in the spotlight. Recently, the country has deployed its economic work for 2023, opening a new chapter for its economic development and filling us with confidence in China’s economy in the new year.

But where does this confidence come from?

Looking at the bigger picture, the 10 new prevention and control measures ushered in a new stage of China’s COVID-19 response. Although the pandemic has not yet come to an end, the optimized strategy will undoubtedly boost economic activity, and facilitate the flow of economic factors and commodities. Put simply, the optimized strategy has reinvigorated the economy. The roads are busier, the malls have more shoppers, and travel apps have seen an uptick in customers. The optimized COVID-19 strategy and updated economic policy have brought China’s economy into a new development stage.

In terms of specific economic measures, “expanding domestic demand” has become a top priority in achieving the goal of ensuring stable growth in 2023. Predictions for this year depict a bleak global economic outlook with sluggish external demand. In contrast with the Keynesian belief that “demand creates its own supply,” China emphasizes generating effective demand through high-quality supply, which means continuously innovating to create higher-level products. For example, despite the saturated cellphone market, the emergence of smartphones redefined cellphones, creating demand from 7 billion people for the new products. This represents the underlying logic behind China’s efforts to deepen supply-side structural reform.

According to a recent report from the World Bank, China contributed an average of 38.6% to global economic growth from 2013 to 2021, more than the G7 countries combined. Expanding domestic demand means further tapping the huge potential of China’s supersized market of 1.4 billion people. This will translate into a critical driving force to the economies of both China and the world.

In addition, developing the private sector is also a key priority. With private businesses, such as Huawei, Alibaba and ByteDance, accounting for a large proportion of China’s economy, the private sector has now become a major economic player in the country. Statistics show that in the first 11 months of 2022, the import and export volume of China’s private businesses amounted to 19.41 trillion yuan (about $2.82 trillion), or 50.6% of the country’s total. Private businesses have also demonstrated stronger vitality and resilience, especially in terms of the sustainable development of new forms of foreign trade.

Therefore, China is scaling up its support for the private sector, continuously urging equal treatment of private businesses and their state-owned counterparts, and helping micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises to overcome difficulties posed by the pandemic. These supporting measures aim to promote the sound development of private businesses. Likewise, the thriving of private businesses will in return bolster the economy by creating more jobs, ensuring the continued growth of disposable incomes, and further expanding domestic demand and boosting consumption. As such, we are also confident about the growth of the private sector in 2023.

China’s economy has withstood multiple tests and challenges during the three years since the outbreak of the pandemic, and the year 2023 is bound to be a brand new journey in striving for economic growth. However, with the current policies, innovation capacity and various driving forces, we are confident that China’s economy will grow steadily, continue to act as an engine for the global economy and propel further growth.


From coal to renewables – lessons to learn from a total transformation


Since the end of 2020, Scorpio Bulkers has been gradually disposing of its dry bulk vessels. In the world of entertainment, this would have been classed an extreme makeover. Why did your company reinvent itself as Eneti?

There were several factors that led to this decision: the lower barriers to entry and standards of competition in the dry bulk market and, in 2018 and 2019, the pressure on the transportation of coal, especially from financial institutions in the United States. In parallel, amongst the various research and development projects we habitually appraise, we evaluated the fundamentals of the offshore wind turbine installation vessels and renewables market. This prompted us to redirect Scorpio Bulkers’ focus to more sustainable endeavours and dare to take the leap towards this growing market. Disposing of our dry bulk carriers was a natural first step fully aligned with the Group’s vision of embedding decarbonization efforts with the market’s solid opportunities. After we had started the process, the dry bulk market recovered, but for us there was no turning back, and we don’t regret our decision.

What were the biggest challenges you faced on this journey?

At Scorpio, we have always been “moxie” – agile but responsible. So we were mindful but unworried of this responsibility when entering a sector that was new to us. Our approach is to dig deep into details of any new venture to fully understand the environment into which we are stepping. This was also the case with the conception of Eneti. We were acutely aware of the challenges and therefore looked for partnerships and consultants in the areas where we were less experienced – this is where DNV came in.

What did the support from DNV look like?

Given DNV’s strong track record in this field, we were very pleased to ally and further strengthen our relationship. We particularly appreciated DNV’s ability to investigate non-standard issues that crop up all the time during the construction process for wind turbine installation vessels. Rules and regulations are often not clear or focused and open to interpretation for this complex and new type of vessel. It’s a fine balance to match what makes sense technically to meeting the regulatory requirements. And this is where it’s been very helpful to have such an experienced partner by our side. With the aim to boost operational knowledge, Eneti also employed experts and acquired the UK-based company Seajacks in 2021. Their existing assets and long-standing experience in the operation of wind turbine installation vessels established Eneti as one of the strongest players on the market and unique in having a NYSE-listed public vehicle fully dedicated to renewables.

Could you tell us more about Eneti’s current portfolio and what its project pipeline is?

Eneti acquired five existing wind turbine installation vessels through Seajacks. They operate in Northern Europe and Asia. However there is an expansion trend for the diameter of wind turbines which will challenge both the existing capability of the crane and the availability of space on deck. The business case was therefore building a vessel which will better cover these concerns, considering that supply and demand are extremely misbalanced at present. Currently, Eneti has two newbuilding projects at DSME in Korea. They are due to be delivered in 2024 and 2025 and we are confident that they will also be able to transport and install the turbines of the future. Scorpio Ship Management s.a.m. has been in charge of technical specification discussions and entrusted with the supervision of both newbuildings. Eneti Inc. is however as an autonomous entity capable of proceeding in the promising renewable segment with its own resources, including technical management and operation.

What makes the new vessels fit for the future?

Both are being built to the new GustoMSC NG-16000x design and will be capable of operating at depths of up to 65 metres and of installing wind turbines of up to 20 megawatts with diameters exceeding 300 metres. We have had many discussions with the designer on how to improve the operational capability of the vessels and on how to operate with reduced emissions. We want to build them as energy efficient as possible and ensure that they can comply with tightening environmental regulations. For example, the vessels will have DNV’s Ammonia Ready class notation. That being said, we want them to be as fuel flexible as possible – moxie! This means they could also be methanol ready, LNG ready or hydrogen ready. We have run studies on the storage capability and supply for almost all liquid gases (ammonia, methanol, LNG and hydrogen), and we have invested in a diesel generator which is able to be easily retrofitted to adapt to a new fuel.

What concrete emission reduction measures did you opt for?

To reduce emissions and boost energy efficiency, the cranes are fully electric, and all the major electrical consumers are fitted with variable-frequency drives. We have also introduced hybridization in the form of a powerful battery pack. In turn, we have reduced the power of the diesel engine on board and will instead use the battery for covering peak power requirements. The battery will in general be used as spinning reserve for ensuring that the diesel engines will always run at the most efficient regime, avoiding black smoke during sudden load demand and eliminating the problem of blackouts. We plan to recover the energy into the battery system during operations such as jacking down. Idling time and hotel operations can also be battery powered for a limited time rather than by the diesel engine. The vessels will be ready for cold ironing while in port but we also envisage them using cold ironing during operations once solutions are made available. NOx emissions will be 50% lower than the latest IMO Tier III requirements applicable to this type of vessel.

How is Eneti adapting to an evolving offshore wind market?

Investing in long-term assets that can install the turbine of the future has been Eneti’s primary duty. There is strong competition amongst turbine producers to increase industrial efficiency by size. Similar to other industrial sectors, the competition on size will settle down once certain technical, economic or regulatory limits are achieved. With the possibility of reaching 215 metres’ hook height from LAT, 2,600 tons of crane SWL and a variable load in excess of 12,500 tons, we are confident of being able to serve the offshore wind industry of the future, ensuring a fast return on investment and years of high profitability. Amongst Eneti’s existing vessels, SEAJACKS SCYLLA – a Gusto-design NG 14000 – is well placed to cover present and future wind turbine installation demand. The other four vessels are continuing to install wind turbines along with being employed in Operation and Maintenance, a sector that is as promising as that of new turbine installation.

Can you give us a short future outlook?

There are also possibilities to upgrade the length of the boom in order to cover future market needs or eliminate older assets and continue to invest in newbuildings. Eneti is currently exploring all these options. Overall, Eneti’s goal is to experience the same success as Scorpio Tankers while being fully dedicated to renewables. The expected increase in demand of renewable energy will stabilize this market and counteract some of the global energy and political instability. Eneti is ideally positioned to tackle the supply and demand misbalance in the sector and the increased need for zero-carbon energy. Our ambition is to further increase our presence in this promising market.

Source: DNV

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