THE POHOTTUWA GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA Part 2 C9d
Posted on December 29th, 2020

KAMALIKA PIERIS

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Sri Lanka in October 2020. Pompeo received security fit enough for a President, said the media. The visit was clearly intended to urge Sri Lanka to join an alliance against China. USA wished to rope Sri Lanka into the US’s regional plans, said analysts, but US could not achieve what it wanted and there was no joint statement from the two parties. This clearly indicated that they were unable to agree on issues.

President Gotabaya had told Pompeo that he cannot compromise the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka for the sake of foreign relations. That was a blow to USA’s ambitions in Sri Lanka, said analysts.

 But both parties agreed on the need to ensure that shipping lanes and the use of the sea should be left open to all.  There should be freedom of movement in the region. On the economic front, Sri Lanka said that assistance in terms of technology and investment was welcome. Priority will be given to promote US investments in the Island said Pompeo.

Both parties also agreed to strengthen the defense cooperation already established between Sri Lanka and the United States. These include training opportunities and assistance from the United States to security forces personnel in Sri Lanka.

Pompeo issued a statement regarding his visit. The United States seeks to strengthen our partnership with democratic, peaceful, prosperous, and fully sovereign Sri Lanka,  said Pompeo. A strong sovereign Sri Lanka is a powerful strategic partner for the US on the world stage. It can be a beacon for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Pompeo flattered Sri Lanka .Sri Lankan factories and garment manufacturers quickly filled hundreds and hundreds of orders for high-quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), [used in the Coved epidemic] and we are grateful for this output which saved American lives, he said.

In Colombo, State Secretary Pompeo underscored the commitment of the United States to a partnership with a strong, sovereign Sri Lanka and to advance common goals for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, reported the media.

Pompeo repeatedly attacked China during his one-day visit to Colombo, to request Sri Lanka to end its close relationship with China.  We see, from bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea, the China Communist Party as a predator. The US comes in a different way. We come as a friend and as a partner,” he claimed. Calling the Chinese Communist Party a predator” is an unusual diplomatic practice, embarrassing to the hosts during an official visit, observed former diplomat, Sarala Fernando.  

China said, we are firmly opposed to the United States taking the opportunity of the State Secretary’s visit to sow and interfere in China-Sri Lanka relations, and to coerce and bully Sri Lanka. US has no power or obligation to lecture on China-Sri Lanka relations.  That will neither be tolerated by the Chinese nor be accepted by the Sri Lankans.

The Embassy of China in Colombo, tweeted  Sorry Mr. Secretary @SecPompeo, we’re busy promoting #China-#SriLanka friendship and cooperation, not interested in your #AlienVsPredator game invitation..”

USA wants to wean Sri Lanka away from China..US has commented on Sri Lanka-China relations, in an extremely negative way on many occasions. Rear Admiral Donald D. Gabrielson, of the US Navy, declared, at the Galle Dialogues 2017 that every country should be cautious when working with China for want of transparency in certain engagements. Many an eyebrow was raised when Rear Admiral Gabrielson spoke ill of China, in Colombo, said Shamindra Ferdinando.

 In 2020 American Ambassador in Colombo, Alaina Teplitz, in an interview with local media criticized Chinese projects in Sri Lanka. The U.S. believes that partnerships between countries should be open, transparent, and mutually beneficial, and if this is what Sri Lanka’s relationship with China embodies, then we encourage it,” she said.

Sri Lanka should engage with China  in ways that protect its sovereignty. There is too much of a China-centric dependency which limits the Sri Lankan government to look at alternatives, Teplitz continued.  China replied  that these  remarks by Teplitz, made  in interview with a local newspaper severely violated the diplomatic protocol.

 Alice Wells, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State said in 2020  Our partnership with Sri Lanka goes back a long way, through a lot of different eras, and right now, we think  Sri Lanka  should make some choices about where they head.  We encourage Sri Lanka to review the options we offer for a transparent and sustainable economic development in contrast to discriminatory and opaque practices.

 We urge Sri Lanka to make difficult but necessary decisions to secure its economic independence for long-term prosperity, and we stand ready to partner with Sri Lanka for its economic development and growth.  Chinese embassy said that asking a country to make difficult but necessary decisions” on its foreign relations is also a blatant violation of diplomatic protocol.

Sri Lanka should avoid the vulnerability associated with excess indebtedness to a single lender, USA advised, meaning China. Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, , declared in Washington,  in September 2017 that the US was seriously concerned over what she called unsustainable debt burden on Sri Lanka due to non-concessional loans from China. 

Sri Lanka said there is no such heavy debt with China. China had helped from the time of the LTTE war. Much of this was  grants and not loans. Even in the matter of loans they were low interest and affordable.

China responded to these  US criticisms. China’s development can be seen all around the world in ports, roads, railway while American bombings can also be felt all around the world, replied China.

To this day, American troops are deployed in  150 countries. Since 2001, the US has spent over $6 trillion on military operations and war, money that might have been invested in the infrastructure at home. Since the 1970s, China has not once gone to war.  [instead] China, , built its nation pouring more cement every three years than America did in the entire twentieth century said China.

 It is hoped that the United States correct the ugly practices of arbitrarily interfering in other countries’ domestic and foreign affairs and forcing small and medium-sized countries to choose sides, said China.

US and British imperialists secretly create difficult situations in sovereign countries in order to pave the way to interfere openly, warned China. One method is to create spurious narratives about regimes they want to target.  

China strongly suggested the US quit the addiction of preaching to  others and applying double standards”. China named four areas of misdeeds, . Slandering, pretending to be the guardian of free trade while violating the WTO rulings, pretending to be transparent, smearing others’ normal cooperation against sovereignty,  militarily misbehaving and imposing unilateral sanctions.

China said when it comes to human rights, the United States should do its ‘homework’ , rather than telling other countries what to do, or even spreading rumors to discredit other countries. Poor prison conditions, ill treatment and even abuse of prisoners in the United States are frequently reported by the media. ( continued)

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