Shashi Tharoor flags India’s concerns over Chinese presence in Sri Lanka
Posted on April 5th, 2017

Meera Srinivasan Courtesy The Hindu

The former Union Minister was speaking at the launch of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s political biography, authored by Dinesh Weerakody, in Colombo.

Congress MP and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor flagged India’s concerns over China’s presence in Sri Lanka, pointing to “military intervention in the guise of trade” even in the earlier avatar of China’s Silk Road initiative.

He was speaking at the launch of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s political biography, authored by Dinesh Weerakody, in Colombo on Tuesday.

Referring to Chinese admiral Zheng He’s explorations in 15th century, Mr. Tharoor said, they were not just initiatives to promote trade, but also “direct military intervention under the pretext of ushering in a harmonious world order under China’s emperor.”

Some in India wondered whether China’s interest in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) undermines India’s own historical links and cultural networks built over generations and centuries, said the former Minister of State for External Affairs, echoing South Block’s apparent preoccupation with Beijing’s growing presence in the region.

Batting for Indian private sector firms seeking to enter the Sri Lankan market, Mr. Tharoor said, many of them voiced concern over “the extraordinary stringency” of Sri Lanka’s Environment Impact Assessment regulations, as applied to Indian firms. “Some of the Indian executives say with feeling that Chinese companies don’t face as many environmental hurdles as Indian companies do,” he said.

India is keen that the island nation reaches a political settlement keeping in line with values enshrined in the Sri Lankan Constitution and India’s Constitution which, the former U.N. Under-Secretary General said, was “drafted by people who too in their time grappled with blood, violence and mass displacement at the time of partition.”

Assuring India in his response, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said, “We see a lot of opportunities in the region, the wealth of which helped the West in the past. It is now time for us to ensure we can rebuild the Indian Ocean and strengthen ourselves. There is much more scope for us to work together with India.”

Reinstating his commitment to the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) that India and Sri Lanka are likely sign later this year, the Prime Minister said the countries of the Bay of Bengal, along with the five southern States of India, and Sri Lanka could focus on an economy larger than a trillion dollars in value.

5 Responses to “Shashi Tharoor flags India’s concerns over Chinese presence in Sri Lanka”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    [Quote] India is keen that the island nation reaches a political settlement keeping in line with values enshrined in the Sri Lankan Constitution and India’s Constitution [Unquote]

    Why should Sri Lanka show any respect or regard for the Indian constitution?

    What is this “political settlement” India refers here in the context of trade?

    The best balancing act against India is to have a Chinese (symbolic) military presence in the island. Otherwise, Sri Lanka is not free to negotiate. The world closely watches the Jingping-Trump meeting. World’s future hinges on it.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    I agree fully with Dilrook.

    It is ludicrous to ape India’s Constitution in any area of Sri Lanka’s own Constitution, or to let India meddle in Sri Lanka’s Constitution.

    India will forever be more beholden to Tamil Nadu and to her global security than to the survival of the Sinhala Buddhist community.

    To that end, I agree with Dilrook here also, Sri Lanka MUST BALANCE India with a Chinese MILITARY & ECONOMIC presence in Sri Lanka, but in a way that is NOT DOMINANT.

    That balance is the ONLY INSURANCE Sri Lanka WILL EVER HAVE against CONTINUED BULLYING by India!

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Can’t we settle this ‘grab Lanka’ program from INDIA through the UN Security Council system, rather than have more and more Big Power military presence in Lanka ?

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Or else, for Sri Lankans, the ‘the Floggings will continue till Morale improves’. !!

    Lankans have had enough ‘Ow-ies’, or do we want more of the same ?

    INDIA will not agree to any Big Power play in Lanka. INDIA herself is afraid of re-colonisation of INDIA. Please read book
    “Breaking India” by Rajiv Malhotra.

  5. Cerberus Says:

    As mentioned by Fran Diaz please read the book “Breaking India – Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines’ by Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan. Here is an excerpt.

    India’s integrity is being undermined by three global networks that have well-established operating bases inside India: (i) Islamic radicalism linked with Pakistan, (ii) Maoists and Marxist radicals supported by China via intermediaries such as Nepal, and (iii) Dravidian and Dalit identity separatism being fostered by the West in the name of human rights. This book focuses on the third: the role of U.S. and European churches, academics, think-tanks, foundations, government and human rights groups in fostering separation of the identities of Dravidian and Dalit communities from the rest of India. The book is the result of five years of research and uses information obtained in the West about foreign funding of these Indian-based activities. The research tracked the money trails that start out claiming to be for “education,” “human rights,” “empowerment training,” and “leadership training,” but end up in programs designed to produce angry youths who feel disenfranchised from Indian identity.

    The book reveals how outdated racial theories continue to provide academic frameworks and fuel the rhetoric that can trigger civil wars and genocides in developing countries. The Dravidian movement’s 200-year history has such origins. Its latest manifestation is the “Dravidian Christianity” movement that fabricates a political and cultural history to exploit old faultlines. The book explicitly names individuals and institutions, including prominent Western ones and their Indian affiliates. Its goal is to spark an honest debate on the extent to which human rights and other “empowerment” projects are cover-ups for these nefarious activities.

    Authors Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan

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