Top US, Chinese and Russian Foreign Affairs Personnel in Sri Lanka on January 13, 2020
Posted on January 11th, 2020

Dilrook Kannangara

It cannot be a bigger powerplay than this. Very senior representatives of all three superpowers will be in Sri Lanka on the same date obviously to push Sri Lanka to comply with their foreign policy agendas. Needless to say, they rival each other. US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells, Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov will be visiting Sri Lanka next Monday the 13th.

Their visit is crucial given the happenings around Sri Lanka.

Alice Wells of USA is also visiting India and Pakistan but not before Sri Lanka. That shows the significance of the Lankan trip. According to the US State Department, she will be Lankan to advance the US-India strategic global partnership following the success of their Ministerial Dialogue in December. This is a series of military deals between USA and India. These deals are the following.

1.       US-India Major Defence Partnership (MDP) – to expand military-to-military cooperation and improve the defence and security partnership in the Indian Ocean region

2.       An Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region including US military liaison officer at the Centre to monitor maritime security across the region

3.       Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) for the installation of secure communication capabilities between the US and Indian militaries

4.       COMCASA – to enable open communication between US and Indian militaries and sharing of information without restrictions

5.       Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) – geospatial and GPS information-sharing.

6.       Industrial Security Annex (ISA) – to exchange classified military information between the US and Indian defense industries

These are huge military developments that will surely push India away from its sham non-aligned position into the lap of USA. The purpose of the visit is to bring Sri Lanka also into the fold under India. This is very similar to the British strategy for Ceylon from 1833 to 1924. USA is just following it. MCC will be a key discussion point.

Chinese and Russian foreign ministers are obviously aware of this and they will focus on discouraging Sri Lanka from falling into this trap. However, if Sri Lanka goes with US and Indian demands, China and Russia will be compelled to take it tough with Sri Lanka.

If the island nation further veers into the US military camp, China and Russia will have no option than to secure a land mass within the island that goes with them. It means division of the island of Sri Lanka with opposing political and strategic views. Sri Lanka’s northern and eastern provinces and the coastal belt from the northern province south to Beruwala are occupied by pro-US and pro-Indian populations whereas the rest support non-alignment. These are the island’s political and strategic fault lines. The first piece is what USA and India are after. It is a clear case of matching supply and demand, both push and pull factors.

In order to withstand all three world superpowers, Sri Lanka’s leadership needs vision, courage and knowledge.

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