COULD CHINA HELP SRI LANKA TO BE A DEVELOPED NATION? (PART B)
Posted on June 1st, 2020

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

International news of CNN published that China is becoming to replace the USA in international aid, the total Chinese aid from the year 2000 to 2014 was US $ 354 billion of which a quantum of aid has gone to African nations where combinedly received the US $ 32 billion for 704 projects. Many African countries with rich mining resources were under the rule of European countries, which indiscriminately exploited them but never provided such huge economic supports.  An assistant professor of Politics at the University of British Columbia University found in research that Chinese aid was more attractive to developing countries because no political strings attached Chinese aid which quickly and efficiently disbursed than the assistance from Western nations.

The current Chines Leader Xi Jinping initiated many changes in the Chinese economy after the election to the leadership in 2012 and China’s party conference, Mr. Xi Jinping indicated that his willingness to opening its economy further to the world and CNN pointed out that Huge sums are also expected to be channeled into Xi’s grand plan for building up roads, ports and other infrastructure along the historic silk road” trading routes across Asia, Europe, and Africa. Dubbed the belt and road initiative it aims to create a growing trade network with China at its heart.”

China has played a critical role in the Asian region’s economic development and the growth objectives of all countries in the region are being dependent on the Chinese economy because China has involved in trade with all countries.  Sri Lanka had a close relationship with China for a long period and the relationship had a broader feature such as religious, cultural exchanges, and the supports for infrastructure development of the country.  The impartial American analysis is that Chinese aid supported to a 0.4% increase in world economic growth.  Many developing countries concerned about the effects of Western aid in pushing for political reforms. 

People in Sri Lanka observed that after the defeat of the Rajapaksa regime in 2015 Western nations push for a new constitution, the abolition of the power of the elected president, and changing the election system in the country. The advice directed to Sri Lanka after 2015 created a constitutional mess and the court system has become one of the justice systems that involved in jurisdiction matters of inutile case hearing. 

The experience after the local government election in 2018 showed that the 19th amendment to the constitution made under the advice of the Western countries pushed Sri Lanka into a political and administrative mess.   People of Sri Lanka do not like such a by force pushing to change the political system. As impartial American analysis indicates Chinese supports is significant to lift the economic growth to more than 7%.  During the Rajapaksa regime, China helped Sri Lanka to maintain a higher economic growth but under the Sirisena -Wickramasinghe regime the growth has declined to 3.2%.

 The Western rulers in Sri Lanka bought democratic political principles to the country but they were unable to win the hearts of people as the motives of Western rulers involved in a secret agenda destroying the religious and cultural values of the country, which were rooted in Sri Lanka’s society during many centuries.  One of the examples that people did not trust in the Western values was the story written by Lenard Wolf in the Village in the Jungle.  Lenard Wolf, who was a British administrator in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka, clearly indicated how the democratic justice system of Western rulers did work against the poor Sri Lankans.  Justice means justice which should be equal to everybody but the British justice system has failed to give justice to a poor person.

The democratic values bought to Sri Lanka were vital to changing society.  Despite the purpose of democratic values, Western rulers attempted to interpret values in different ways and used the values to divide society.  Western rulers in Sri Lanka did not support for achieving the dream of people. It seems that people of Sri Lanka would never see Western democratic philosophy as a superior doctrine and many views that democratic philosophy divided the unity of the country and deranged the community.  A former Indian foreign secretary commented in a book written by him that the last period of civil war in the country, Norway wanted to stop the killing of Prabhakaran and allow the terrorist leader to kill more people in the country.  Many occasions Western countries promised to provide financial support for the economic revival of Sri Lanka but they never provided support as promised. 

During the 2015 election, Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe who strongly opposed to Chinese assistance and later people saw that he was bow down to China looking for assistance. Some English journalists in Sri Lanka were of opinion that Mr. Wickramsinghe’s hate speeches against Chinese aid and China caused many negative consequences to Sri Lanka after the 2015 elections. After the election results, many Chinese aid projects were halted by the new government, and several big projects were later changed as the way China wanted.

During the Korean boom Sri Lanka had an opportunity to manage a good trade balance but when the boom ended the country faced the most critical issues in the economy.  It had an excess production of rubber and a shortage of staple food rice.  At that time. China embarked on Sri Lanka as a survivor of the economy through China Sri Lanka rubber rice pact, which was initiated by RG Senanayake despite the opposition of JR Jayawardene within the cabinet.  Many Western countries or India did not come to help Sri Lanka during that difficult period. People cannot blame to India as it had many problems with a higher population. In the late 1990s prof. Dudley Seers severely criticized the China-Ceylon Rubber Rice Pact and gave a  very bad picture of the bilateral agreement.     

Since the China-Sri Lanka rubber rice pact, which was a bilateral aid agreement, China extended supports to Sri Lanka in a variety of aid packages and India looked at them with a negative point of view because Indian attitudes towards neighboring countries were based on hegemony rather than friendship and coexistence between countries. It may influence international politics. Under the administration of the current prime minister in India, the attitudes of foreign policymakers toward neighboring countries wanted to change but it does not appear that India has radically changed its attitudes toward neighbors. However, after the election of Mr.Gotabaya Rajapaksa, India has made an innate change toward the style of administration of Sri Lanka.

When a country is seeking economic supports from another country it needs understanding that the supports are successfully working and sustain if it contains mutual benefits to both countries.  When Sri Lanka seeks supports from China Sri Lanka needs support to China in return for the benefits gain.  A traditional Sinhala saying was that if anyone drank water from a river and attempt to praise the ocean for that advantage gained it is not the way of expressing gratitude.  The experience in Sri Lanka shows that it obtained support from China in many instances but the country did not attempt to express the gratitude in right ways.  For example, after the civil war, Sri Lanka faced a grave international situation with human rights issues and war crimes investigations. 

One Response to “COULD CHINA HELP SRI LANKA TO BE A DEVELOPED NATION? (PART B)”

  1. aloy Says:

    Both India and China have their own problems as well as their strategic plans for the future. These are uncertain times. Nobody knows how these would pan out under threat of an unknown enemy: corona. But one thing is sure, nobody is going to put their money for our politicos to do electioneering unless our fools are prepared to sell the family silver like ports airport strategic businesses etc. Perhaps the problem with ICTA on the issue of Driving licence cards and railway tickets is one.
    Agriculture will give us food security but we will not be able to make much out of it as our farmers are not used to it scientifically.
    Tourism will not take us forward either although our Prez must be thinking of making big investments like the the beautification of beaches etc. This is because his experts are not giving him the correct advice. There is no country in the world which has developed by tourism. Look at Greece, Hawai etc. One has ruined its economy while the other has lost the country.

    As an aside let me explain what happened in the beach nourishment which perhaps our prez was advised to embark as a tourism cum road building project to my understanding. When there is a world recognized hydraulic institute in SL to correctly model the project and execute it, they have selected a consultant who have failed SL in the biggest world Bank project in our country- the MCDUP. Nobody is talking about the blunder they have made. They even have selected the worst time for the execution of the project when mean sea level for SL seems to be at its highest. This has a cycle of 18 years and that is the reason why there are sea erosion in consecutive months these days during the high tide days each month. Also the consultant did not put a clause for force majeure ( an unexpected situation like war or something like Corona) with which both parties could have extricated themselves from obligations due to corona. This is the reason why I say that no country will come to help us, but put us in more trouble.

    The best is to allow the local companies to develop in the technological field. Give help to start ups and take them forward instead of awarding contracts to foreigners even though credit lines etc are being offered.

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