US Envoy Shannon militarily ropes Sri Lanka to spite China
Posted on December 16th, 2015

By Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Political Note from U.S.

Washington, D.C. 15 November (

Following his official meeting with Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in Colombo 14 December, the U.S. Department of State Counselor (and onetime -2009/10 – counselor in Obama White House) who, early next year will assume the fourth-ranking position of Under Secretary (Political), Thomas Shannon addressing the media declared the following.U.S. Envoy Thomas Shannon 14 December at Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry

“Sri Lanka’s contributions to the development of a regional consciousness – one that promotes the values of democratic governance and respect for human rights, freedom of navigation, sustainable development, and environmental stewardship are noteworthy”.

The media, political analysts and watchers of ‘improving’ US-Sri Lanka relations are able to understand Washington’s desire to promote the values of democratic governance, human rights, sustainable development and environment stewardship. Even, reconciliation among ethnic groups and accountability.

There is one important issue that Washington seems to have got round with Sri Lanka that most political observers could miss in that Shannon-statement: “Sri Lanka’s contribution to freedom of navigation is noteworthy”.

United Stated Navy DestroyerIt is in this statement that Washington seems to have roped Sri Lanka to position this South Asian nation to the United States’ overall national security maneuver in the Asia-Pacific Region in which China has become a ‘headache’ in East as well as South Asia.

In his statement in the company of the foreign minister, Ambassador Shannon, a seasoned strategist in Washington, further said,

“I am pleased to announce with the Foreign Minister today that the first meeting of the U.S.-Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue will take place in February 2016 in Washington, DC.

“This annual meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss all aspects of the relationship and ways in which the United States may be able to engage directly with the people of Sri Lanka and the Government”.

An allusion to the story of the wooden horse of Troy, used by the Greeks to trick their way into the city. It is recorded in Virgil’s Aeneid, Book 2, 19 BC:

“Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.”

Savvy political observers are reminded of the above when they hear the following declaration made by Mr. Shannon in Colombo on December 14:

“These efforts will be wide ranging, to the benefit of both countries. Our cooperation benefits communities where returnees are facing hardship. We will assist reconciliation and broader transitional efforts at the household level, community level, and national levels. We will foster greater trade and investment to raise incomes, create jobs, and improve standards of living in both countries”.

What does freedom of navigation means to Sri Lanka, and why did Washington include the issue among other issues that are generally discussed since the defeat of the secessionist LTTE in May 2009?

In October, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer, the USS Lassen, challenged territorial limits around one of the man-made islands China claims in the Spratly archipelago with a so-called freedom-of-navigation patrol.

U.S. officials have been unwilling to publicly clarify the precise circumstances of the USS Lassen’s operation in the South China Sea, near Subi Reef, last October 27.

After more than two weeks of considering various public reports, experts have determined that the first U.S. freedom of navigation operation near Subi Reef was not an assertion of high seas freedom by the United States. Rather, the USS Lassen transited within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in compliance with the innocent passage provisions outlined in Part II, Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In essence, the October 27 U.S. freedom of navigation patrol asserted that ships – both civil and military – had the right to sail near Subi Reef without notifying Chinese authorities as long as they complied with innocent passage regulations. The very geography of the South China Sea means that Subi Reef could likely qualify for the territorial waters under UNCLOS.

The U.S. recognizes that Subi Reef is inside a legal territorial sea. Contrary to the claims of many experts, theUSS LASSEN operation was not intended to assert that the U.S. challenges the existence of a territorial sea around Subi Reef. Rather, it was intended to exercise freedom of navigation consistent with international law and to demonstrate that China’s building of artificial islands will not change how the U.S. operates in the waters and airspace of the South China Sea. Additionally, contrary to international law, Chinese domestic law requires prior notification for warships to exercise innocent passage. The U.S. gave no formal prior notification to any of the claimants of the exercise by USS LASSEN f innocent passage in the vicinity of Subi Reef and Sandy Cay.

According to Washington, such innocent passage acted as a freedom of navigation operation because it challenged China’s attempt to put illegal restrictions on the movements of warships.

China said on November 22 that the United States is making political provocations with its patrols in the South China Sea, as tensions around the waterways mount.

Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin made the remarks at a briefing during a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in Kuala Lumpur. He said the U.S. has gone beyond freedom of navigation to “test” China.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) enshrines the concept of innocent passage through a coastal state’s territorial sea. Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal state. A vessel in innocent passage may traverse the coastal state’s territorial sea continuously and expeditiously, not stopping or anchoring except in force majeure (superior or irresistible power) situations.

It is in this context that Washington expects Sri Lanka to fall in line with its policy in Asia-Pacific Region. The visiting State Department official Thomas Shannon did not fail to underscore the “Sri Lanka’s contribution to freedom of navigation is noteworthy” giving the hint that the issue was discussed with the Government of Sri Lanka.

Which is why the Asian Tribune in its previous report titled ‘Seasoned U.S. strategist visits Sri Lanka:

Thomas Shannon’ noted the significance of this Washington official’s visit to Colombo highlighting the American interest in the Asia-Pacific Region and Obama’s 2012 declared policy of Pivot to Asia to challenge the Peoples Republic of China.

– Asian Tribune –


2 Responses to “US Envoy Shannon militarily ropes Sri Lanka to spite China”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Oddly enough, Avant Garde Company’s sea patrol operations made a significant contribution to freedom of navigation in the seas close to Sri Lanka. Having disrupted its operations, the present government deserves no credit.

    However, the US definition of freedom of navigation means allowing US and its allies a free hand in invading territorial waters anywhere in the world. US is not a signatory to UNCLOS. Sri Lanka should keep out of this hegemonic plan. USA will once again pressure the government to abandon the Port City project.

    Having a Chinese military (naval) presence in the island as soon as possible is a good idea. China has the largest number of sea going vessels of all nations. It is foolish to mess with the Chinese in the seas. US carrier battle groups are useless and expensive in modern geopolitical games.

    Another possible topic of discussion would be replacing Diego Garcia military base. The lease expires next year. Even if the lease is extended, rising sea levels and distance to land make it difficult to operate. USA definitely looks for a replacement and Sri Lanka is an obvious target.

  2. Nihal Perera Says:

    There is a very good reason why US is so much interested in Sri Lanka. It is not that US really cares about the democracy, HRs, god governance, or the unity.. These are just buzz-words to hood-wink the people with the help of their puppet regimes like the present government in Sri Lanka.

    The real reason of the US interest in SL is none of the above.. The US agenda is to keep SL under their control so that they can dominate the Indian ocean by keeping China away. The biggest fear US has is that China is rapidly becoming a powerful nation militarily and economically, reducing US influence in Asia, Africa, and the ME.

    They recognize the geo-political importance of Sri Lanka, especially when it comes to maritime routes in the Indian ocean. Both US and India are worried about the growing Chinese influence in the region, especially in Sri Lanka.

    Recent regime change in SL was no accident.. It was well-planned, and orchestrated by the US and India, using local politicians like Ranil / Chandrika, who are willing to kiss asses of the Western masters. The US and its puppets like India knew that with MR at the helm, China will have a wider role to play in Sri Lanka.

    The difference between China and US is that China NEVER interfered with internal matters of the country, but pumped billions of dollars to help the country build infrastructure, and the local economy, with the help of MR who took advantage of the situation to develop the country.

    On the other hand, US always interfere with the country’s internal matters, whether its, politics, HRs, ethnic conflicts, etc., with the false pretence that their motive is to help the country and its people, through their infamous USAID agency which is an agency to exploit the local groups and NGOs.

    Today, we can very clearly see that US is heavily into exploiting Sri Lanka to the fullest politically, economically and very soon militarily, as well. One indication this is happening in a big way is the frequency of high profile US officials visiting Sri Lanka recently, such as Biswas, Kerry, Samantha Powers, and US Envoy Thomas Shannon, who is a strategist specialised in Asia-Pacific region.

    Unfortunately, with the present regime going out of its way to please their US master, ignoring the real danger that Sri Lanka will never be able to control its destiny in the future, we are in the process of de-stabilizing the country very soon.

    We only have to look at what US has done to countries like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria etc. in the name of saving democracy, good governance, rule of law, HRs, etc., etc., only to realise that US has destroyed these countries and its people, committing war crimes in epic proportion.

    So what make these idiots (Ranil/Siriswena/Chandrika/Mangala..) think that Sri Lanka will not face the same fate like the above countries, by letting US control our country…???

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