Sirisena likely to stop China ‘tilt’
Posted on January 9th, 2015

SUHASINI HAIDAR Courtesy The Hindu

He had highlighted the foreign debt trap” in manifesto

Sri Lanka watchers in India believe that with Maithripala Sirisena coming to power in Sri Lanka, the island nation’s tilt towards China will be reduced considerably. They have been critical of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his tilt towards China” and ignoring India’s pleas to grant devolution of powers to the Tamil-majority northern region, as he had repeatedly promised.

The tilt towards China will be reduced considerably with this stunning victory, and, if India is willing, it can be given the advantage of that,” said Maj. Gen. Ashok Mehta (Retd.), a defence analyst who had served in Sri Lanka.

During Mr. Rajapaksa’s tenure, China won a primary role as a donor and investor, also loaning approximately $500 million for development projects. It also bagged some of the biggest projects, including the $1.5-billion Colombo port reclamation project for state corporations, a trend Mr. Sirisena has promised to reverse in his manifesto, calling foreign debt a trap” for Sri Lanka.

India has also been concerned about China’s strategic influence in Sri Lanka, and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had reportedly complained twice in recent months about the docking of Chinese submarines in the Colombo harbour. India must reclaim the strategic space that it has lost by default to China now,” said Maj. Gen. Mehta.

Downplaying the impact of the upset win, the Chinese government issued a statement congratulating Mr. Sirisena. Our friendship runs deep, and successive governments of Sri Lanka have had a friendship policy towards China,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei in Beijing.

However, diplomats advise caution in expecting changes in China’s relations with Sri Lanka. To begin with, they point out that relations between Mr. Modi and Mr. Rajapaksa have been quite warm. The Hindu had also reported how Mr. Rajapaksa’s social media team was led by Arvind Gupta, the BJP’s IT cell chief who helped script Mr. Modi’s success in the May 2014 general elections, which had led to speculation about the government’s support to Mr. Rajapaksa’s campaign.

Others also point out that Mr. Sirisena’s actions on foreign policy must be evaluated once he settles down in office. It is too soon to tell just what he will do on issues that matter to India,” said former Deputy NSA Leela Ponappa, who served at the Sri Lanka desk in the External Affairs Ministry. In the past too, leaders have been in a position to keep their promises, but haven’t,” she added referring to Mr. Rajapaksa’s promises on the Tamil issue.

 

12 Responses to “Sirisena likely to stop China ‘tilt’”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    A Wishful thinking by Indians. With the amount of welfare hand-outs promised by the new president during his campaign, he needs Chinese loans more than ever.
    Imagine, salary increase to all public servants by Rs10,000, abolition of petrol tax, cancellation of all motor cycle loans given to public servants, increasing fertilizer subsidiary, increase of funding allocated to Health, Hospitals, Primary and Secondary education, university education and many other promises need foreign loans. IMF will not provide money for sustaining welfare facilities in the country. Only source available is from China.

  2. mjaya Says:

    Hush Hush NMY!!!

    Lets wait to see the economic wonder “Dr.” in action. Lets see how good a PhD in economics is in the real world. My bet is that it is going to be more hilarious than the “Electrical Engineer” who defected and couldn’t run the CEB (a lady lawyer got the job done!!!).

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    Mjaya,

    Give it up machan.

    My3 is the SL president and we must work with him.

    NO COUNTRY can survive without China. FOOLISH Endians think their junk country can compete with China!

  4. lokubanda Says:

    Gentlemen, with the 100 day welfare programme now in public domain, and a parliamentary election planned for after April 23, things are becoming very interesting. Let’s give them time to settle down and start work. We all will have a lot of things to talk about. Keep going!

  5. lokubanda Says:

    NMY / Lorenzo, I believe the new administration will understand that it may be more economical to borrow direct from China rather than borrowing from the USA a part of what USA borrows from China!

  6. Nanda Says:

    Mjaya,

    I was absent from the presidential WAR and surprised to see you went with the herd.
    You, me and Lorenzo were critical of “our bugger”. Unfortunately he never listened.
    He lost good friends and remained with bad friends, became worse and worse.

    What can we do ? We should not hold on to him anymore. Do not insult those “good friends” who left. We should hope that these ex-friends deliver.

  7. Nimal Says:

    Writing was on the wall for MR after the recent elections in Badulla,where people were not happy and we were there to feel the pulse and politicans in power never listened to us, carried on regardless. Since the Badulla elections some in the regime packed their bags and were trying to escape, done well out of the years in power while we are carrying the can.
    This new lot are no better.
    When I say MS with his silly attire and doing the puja soon after and now going to Kandy for the usual ritual, have little hope for the country and mark my word.
    Today I heard that I won a gold award for paying my taxes ahead in time and a considerable amount and my people in SL is not willing to receive it as a serious tax payer, the government is not willing to listen or help us.
    Again yesterday no bus service in Kandy and non could get to work.
    There is a glimmer of hope for our land.One could only judge from a distance as we haven’t got the privilege make any close contact with the leaders in the country.
    During the swearing in time the only person appealed to me was Rani Wickramasinge who wore the right type of attire for this day and age, could put the country right to some degree. He rightly warned the country not to take revenge or cause mayhem and that’s a good start.
    He and MS must show the country immediately by confiscating all the vehicles of the politicians and they should forced to use public transport like the MPs in UK,remove extravagance of our politicians and even the non politicians who have the privilege of importing duty free vechiles,etc.
    Remove immediately any kind of security from the politicians, even council members and mayors have escorts as a status symbol that the hard working taxpayers have to put up.
    Government mustn’t disrupt daily lives and business of the people as they have to make a living to pay the tax.
    People must be accessible to the politicians, and the pitith ceremonies in a gatherings only separate the politician’s from the people as the people have no opportunity to speak to the politicians they appointed. This a clear ploy to deceive and avoid the people.
    Weekend surgeries in their constituency for the people must be mandatory for the politicans,after all the politicians are there to serve people and not the other way round.
    I see a possibility of the JVP ministers giving a helping hand in tackling corruptions and malpractice and I strongly advise the new regime to have them in the fold with a portfolio or two.

  8. Marco Says:

    I doubt very much MY3 Government would stop/halt on various China developments but place a “hold” on them until a detailed analysis and cost audit is carried out.
    It does not board well to pull the rug out of foreign investment development just because it was initiated by the previous regime.
    I certainly think a Committee should be appointed with ably qualified people (not politicians) Forensic Accountants and Lawyers, QS Cost Consultants, anti-Money Laundering experts and bankers to review and appraise with a fine tooth comb all these high profile expensive projects were in fact “kosher”. A detailed review of cost,budgets, approval processes, flow of funds to contractors and professional teams, Bank loan draw downs, trace flow of funds, conflicts of interest etc to ascertain if the public money has been expended correctly.
    This is not a witch-hunt, and in the case of illegal payments they should be traced vigorously by the Forensic experts and funds recovered. Named and shamed would be up to the Politicians.

    For a start can somebody explain why the Bank of Ceylon would want to open a branch in Seychelles?
    Why on earth would the BoC have an overseas branch with 5 people in Seychelles in a country with just over 91,000 population and less than 50 Sri Lankans.
    As far as I know BoC has branches in London, Male, Chennai- why Seychelles? why not in Aus, US or Canada.
    Our trade with Seychelles is no greater than the total turnover of popular bath-kades in Galle Road, Bamba.
    I would be interested to see the bank accounts opened and maintained in Seychelles an all fund transfers routed via Seychelles.

    Sujeewa Senasinghe a bright young UNP parliamentarian (brother of Namal Senasinghe owner of that famous and photographed Aston Martin with the number plate N4MAL) brought up during the Sirisara program(on 31st night) a small unsolicited Water Project in Hambantota that had been initially offered at USD 120 million which became inflated to USD 270 million at the time of awarding the contract.
    Sujeewa offered the complete dossier of documents pertaining to this deal to the 5 front line govt cabinet ministers (Keheliya, SB, Weerawansa, Dilan P and Bandula Gunawardene) who were present at the Swarnavahini TV debate on 31st night. The 5 ministers had no valid answer.

    The above are two small examples.

  9. RohanJay Says:

    @Marco, yes good point. It makes perfect sense to open BOC branch opening Male, Chennai. In western cities like London and Melbourne which have significant size Sri Lankan communities. Especially Melbourne, though I must say when I was in Melbourne last I was very impressed with the efficiency of the Aussie Banks like Commonwealth etc. Who sought out your bank account problems very efficiently and quickly without any hassle. By the way a Sri Lankan australian handled my queery. They do things the professional aussie way. So I guess, even if BOC opens a branch in Melbourne. Sri Lankans living there will still go to Aussie banks.
    Yes its strange to open a branch in Seychelles, unless someone in government is planning to launder and wash wrongfully gotten wealth through an ofshore bank branch.

  10. Vimutti Says:

    Ajit Doval is a total idiot if he thinks China would attack India from a submarine docked in Sri Lanka. Where do they get these guys, and how can they hold down a responsible position in national security given such utter nonsense in their thinking.

    If China wanted to sabotage its trade with India (China is India’s number ONE trading partner) and attack India, they would attack India with overwhelming force FROM CHINA where they share a border with India, not Sri Lanka!

  11. Vimutti Says:

    Maithripala is about to get an object lesson on what happens to your economic growth if you cut off your major source of funding. Here is a clue: YOU CAN’T TRIPLE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN SRI LANKA AS YOU HAVE PROMISED WITHOUT ‘BILLIONS’ OF DOLLARS IN FOREIGN INVESTMENT.

    Once the Sri Lanka economy tanks, cost of living soars even more, and Sri Lankans feel the PAIN of Maithripala and Ranil’s obvious ignorance, he and the UNP get bounced for good!

  12. Vimutti Says:

    The last time the UNP divided the Buddhist vote and got power in the 70s they took out US-backed IMF loans that had long lists of CONDITIONS, and we had the first GENERAL STRIKE in the history of Sri Lanka.

    Ranil has still not learned the difference between a US-backed IMF loan that dictates nearly every aspect of how you should run your country and economy for the benefit of a few rich folks, and Chinese loans that have generous grace periods, and come with NO CONDiTIONS other than paying the money back as promised. The US-IMF loans lead to decades of POVERTY, extreme inflation, extraordinary high costs of living for most people, and deep budget cuts to education, health, and infrastructure (ask Argentina), and Chinese loans give you a chance to become the Miracle of Asia that Sri Lanka had become.

    Here is from Wiki on US-IMF loans:

    “Former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, who claimed that debt-ridden African states were ceding sovereignty to the IMF and the World Bank, famously asked, “Who elected the IMF to be the ministry of finance for every country in the world?”

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