Did Modi’s Sri Lanka visit influence Colombo to reject China submarine request?
Posted on May 11th, 2017

Courtesy India Today

Sri Lanka last allowed a Chinese submarine to dock in the capital of Colombo in October 2014, a move that triggered fierce opposition from India, which worries about growing Chinese activity in a country it has long viewed as part of its area of influence

Sri Lanka has rejected China’s request to dock one of its submarines in Colombo this month, two senior government officials said on Thursday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in the island nation.

Sri Lanka last allowed a Chinese submarine to dock in the capital of Colombo in October 2014, a move that triggered fierce opposition from India, which worries about growing Chinese activity in a country it has long viewed as part of its area of influence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Sri Lanka today for a two-day official visit.

A senior Sri Lankan government official said China’s request to dock one of its submarines in Colombo this month had been rejected. He said Sri Lanka was “unlikely” to agree to China’s request to dock the submarine at any time, given India’s concerns. The official asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The second official, at the defence ministry, also said China’s request to dock this month had been rejected but that a decision on a further docking had been postponed.

“It might happen later,” the second official told Reuters, adding that China had requested approval to use the port around May 16 “sometime back”.

A source close to the Chinese embassy in Colombo confirmed that China had requested permission for the submarine visit but was still awaiting a response.

China has invested heavily in Sri Lanka in recent years, funding airports, roads, railways and ports, unsettling India, traditionally the closest economic partner of the island nation of 21 million people.

More than 70 percent of the trans-shipment in Colombo port comes from India.

Sri Lanka is finalising a plan to lease 80 percent of its loss-making Hambantotata port to China for 99 years, but the deal has been delayed because of opposition from trade unions.

The Sri Lankan government also wants to establish a petroleum hub with the help of India in the eastern port city of Trincomalee, where Lanka IOC, the subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation, handles 15 out of 99 oil tanks.

A 1987 accord between India and Sri Lanka provides that their territories not be used for activities deemed prejudicial to each other’s unity, integrity and security.

One Response to “Did Modi’s Sri Lanka visit influence Colombo to reject China submarine request?”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    This will have dire consequences on Lanka which is increasingly seen as an extension of India. China and Pakistan will not tolerate as it is a direct and existential threat to their interests.

    Chinese think tanks must be considering of splitting the island nation into south Indian majority north (and parts of the east) and the rest naturally opposed to India. China will easily get India’s agreement on this. It will be amicable and peaceful sharing of Sri Lanka between rival camps. If western powers agree, there is little Sri Lanka can do to stop it. As no Sri Lankan leader is capable of achieving a true middle path outcome (emphasized) and not middle path action (that result in a more pro-Indian nation), we may have to accept this nasty outcome.

    By sending a submarine around the time of Modi’s visit China has indicated it is not the weaker or less demanding party. A foolish foreign minister and no foreign policy worsen the situation.

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