Sri Lankan Delima

Chinese easy money viz resisting being a Chinese colony like Pakistan

PM Modi held delegation-level talks with his Sri Lanka counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is currently on a five-day visit to India, in Delhi on Saturday.

In a joint statement, PM Narendra Modi said that terrorism is a major threat in our region and both Sri Lanka and India have fought this problem firmly.”There were painful and barbaric terrorist attacks on Easter Day in Sri Lanka in April last year. These attacks were not only a blow to Sri Lanka, but also to humanity as a whole,” PM Modi said in a joint statement.

PM Modi also said that in today’s conversation he and his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa discussed ‘Joint Economic Projects’ in Sri Lanka, and also on enhancing mutual economic, trade, and investment relations.

Reading Between the Lines

Indian government understands as well, Sri Lanka, given the grave crisis it is in, needs a moratorium on all loan repayments for three years, given the doldrums the economy is in.  “If the Indian government takes this step, then other governments might agree to do the same thing, including China. The previous government took so many loans, they beggared the economy, and it is a mess. It all depends on the stand India takes” is how the statements go like.

Chinese Smart Plan

While China’s economy is going on a downward spiral, it is increasingly reducing its loan pledge, while now using the loans only for its own Infrastructure projects, in that country. This is the methodology and model that it has been followed with most of the countries, with

its debt-trap diplomacy and seizing of resources, and Sri Lanka is very much in thick of this design.

Sri Lanka finds itself, not getting any response from China in terms of provision of monetary resources, jobs, infrastructure as well as returns from Chinese projects. It draws a blank there.

Chinese Ambassador Cheng had said “loans from China are mostly used on ports, roads, and water conservancy projects that matter to people’s livelihood, meeting the desperate need of Sri Lanka’s socio-economic development. The cooperation projects and loans from China have largely helped improve the infrastructure construction, thus promoting the economic progress, improving livelihood and providing more power for Sri Lanka’s future development”.

However, he deceivingly does not mentions the Cost Involved : thrice what indigenously Sri Lankans/Japan/India could have made it in. Except only China provides the Rogue Loans, in return for exorbitant loan conditions i.e. interests. Chinese get employment in a foreign lands for its idle and stressed industry, as well as movement of its dead stock of materials.

Hence conditions of loans and dead infrastructure is such, that even handing over Hambantota port isn’t enough. There is no revenue there, and there won’t be any, even after three years. Sri Lanka knows that.

If India agrees to postpone debt by three years, we can convince others too: Mahinda Rajapaksa- to Pay Chinese?

Going by the look of it, though it appears Development cooperation is likely to be high on the agenda, while it is unlikely New Delhi might announce any new assistance or such requests. Especially Mr. Doval, in his meeting with President Rajapaksa in Colombo last month, reportedly discussed very openly, countering “debt traps”, a term often used while referring to large scale Chinese rogue loans. Rajapaksa, who also has the Finance, Economic and Policy Development portfolios, has the task of overseeing the repayment of Sri Lanka’s mounting external debt totaling billions of dollars.

Hence what it needs at present, and in urgency, is an Indian stamp on extending deadline. While how it reaffirms the same will not be filling the empty pockets of Xi Jinping.

Indian Concerns

Tamil Rehabilation

Following Mr. Jaishankar’s Colombo visit in November, the MEA said New Delhi “expects” Colombo to take forward post-war reconciliation. Mr. Modi, during President Rajapaksa’s visit, expressed confidence that Sri Lanka would carry forward the process of reconciliation, “to fulfill the aspirations of the Tamil for equality, justice, peace and respect.”

The Sri Lankan President has emphasized the need for development overpower devolution in the war-hit areas and expressed reservations over devolving land and police powers to the provinces envisaged in the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, an outcome of the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Rajapaksa told Tamil media heads in Colombo last month that there was “no change” in his position to implement “13 Plus”, implying he would implement the existing amendment in full and go beyond, an assurance he had given India in the past.

This imply Rajapaksa is willing to heed India’s request

China to revert back its control of Hambantota port to Sri Lanka

Indian masterstroke has been very subtle and engaging, given that China has its back against the wall. India asks Sri Lanka to follow the Myanmar model, of renegotiating all its deals with China, during Jaishankar’s visit to Srl Lanka last year.

Foremost was the essential, non-negotiable requirement of getting the Hambantota port out of Chinese clutches. This was conveyed in a firm manner, which has now resulted in Rajapaksa visit here, now.

While Rajapaksa expresses inability to do that, Sri Lanka does not say an overt yes or no, however is willing to renegotiate the terms for the same.

Security in the Region

With Maldives as precedence, finally in India’s sphere of understanding, and to remain so given the emphatic strategic reinforcement to the region, and the engagements between two countries, more intelligence sharing with Sri Lanka now is the beginning of the understanding. Increase the technical assistance on military equipment, as well as training is the buzz. Like the Easter bombings, for which Sri Lanka have an ongoing investigation into the conspiracy, and a commission is looking into it, they know that India will continue to help on that. In addition, there is news to restart the project for trilateral terror and security cooperation between Maldives-India-Sri Lanka. It is being discussed on how to take the trilateral idea forward.

Viewpoint

 India, the neighboring regional power, had all the reasons to be worried because the Rajapaksas are seen as being pugnaciously sympathetic to China, in the past. However, the new president has made repeated statements that his government would like Sri Lanka to be a “neutral country” and that “Sri Lanka won’t do anything that will harm India’s interests.” Since Jaishankar’s visit to Sri Lanka last year, Gotabaya was also critical of the previous government giving Hambantota Port on a 99-year lease to China and said, “We have to renegotiate.” He went on to add that giving land as investment for developing a hotel or a commercial property was not a problem but “the strategically important, economically important harbor, giving that is not acceptable.”

While India, in all likelihood shall accede to Sri Lankan request of postponing the debt by three years and assist Sri Lanka to get back into the sphere of trustworthy nations, what India shall ensure, is that China’s reach in the region is and shall remain diminished. While the initiative is with India, given Chinese economy and thereby its grand design’s fallacies and dissolute agreements, which have gradually come to fore, India shall cajole all neighbors to get China to cleaners table. This shall ensure no security and strategically harming agreements are left hanging around.

Sri Lanka is unlikely to go Pakistan way. Sri Lanka is the very next one to follow Myanmar, to renegotiate, setting up a viable alternative for whole of South East Asia and Africa to follow suit. Dragon does have a leash, but how strong have to be the hands to wield it, is the suppose, for the world to see.

12 Feb 20/Wednesday                                                                     Written By: Fayaz

Rajapaksa – Xi Jinping Affair Rekindled "Won't Allow Outside Influences In Sri Lanka's Internal Concerns" (Except Ours) : says China

China would always respect Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and not allow any “outside interference” in its internal affairs, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday, as he met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.

What was muffled out, was the latter part of statement,  i.e “except ours”, not only underlines the exclusive arrangement which the present Sri Lankan government promises to the dragon, but also raise eyebrows, on the manner in which last six months of Sri Lankan Politics have panned out, especially the easter bombings. Questions are asked on how, a one-off  Islamic bombing, of the magnitude only seen in deep strife Middle eastern conflicts, lacks any congruent context, either before or after the bombings, except influencing the  Sri Lankan Elections.

“Popsicle politics” of the Dragon

Sri Lankan Lion the latest victim

On a vast tract of newly reclaimed land off Sri Lanka’s seafront capital, construction is underway on a huge Chinese-backed project designed to turn the small, tropical island nation into a south Asian Singapore: a hub of financial services, business, and tourism.

To be built over the next 25 years, at an expected cost of $15bn, Colombo Port City will have 5.6m sq m of sea-facing office, residential and commercial space to woo investors fleeing supposedly messy, unplanned urbanization elsewhere in south Asia. The biggest, most ambitious foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka’s history, the project is a dream sold on desires of what the country just out of the civil war in the last decade, would strive to be.

Fact check spells out a different story. Today, more than a third of government revenue goes toward servicing Chinese loans, with total foreign debt-service reaching $8.2 billion annually. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s trade deficit with China has soared, within imports ($3.8 billion) exceeding exports ($250 million) by a factor of 15.

Hence once these assets are ready, Sri Lanka will not be able to pay the loan. Just like Hambantota, these assets and their administration, as well as ownership, will pass on to Chinese. That will only fill the pocket of the Dragon, while Sri Lankans look on. This is aptly seen as a real issue in Hambantota below.

“Port Diddling”  the Lion

Every time Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, turned to his Chinese allies for loans and assistance with an ambitious port project, the answer was yes.

Yes, even though feasibility studies said the port wouldn’t work.

Yes, even though other frequent lenders like India had refused.

Yes, even though Sri Lanka’s debt was ballooning rapidly under Mr. Rajapaksa.

Over years of construction and renegotiation with China Harbor Engineering Company, one of Beijing’s largest state-owned enterprises, the Hambantota Port Development Project distinguished itself mostly by failing, as predicted. With tens of thousands of ships passing by along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the port draws only one ship per day, by a very generous account.

Each year roughly 60,000 ships vital to the global economy sail through the Indian Ocean past a Chinese-operated port on the southern tip of Sri Lanka. Almost none of them stop to unload cargo.

And then the port became China’s.

The eight-year-old Hambantota port, with almost no container traffic and trampled fences that elephants traverse with ease, has become a prime example of what can go wrong for countries involved in President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” trade and infrastructure initiative.

Scenario Now

Hambantota has struggled to make money, partly because it is fairy isolated. With no industrial hub and facilities nearby, there are no natural customers on its doorstep.

But now that China looks set to take control of the port, that is a problem it wants to fix and has arm-twisted the government to allow to create a large economic zone: buying 15,000 acres of land to build factories and offices.

But many who live in the area don’t want to give up their homes and farms. At a small village near the harbour, locals are furious about the plan. Many of them participated in a large protest against the investment hub in previous years.

Roads and highways are being laid all over the country, and some have really shortened travel time between towns and cities. This has helped boost tourism, the country’s biggest source of foreign income.”In the near term, there will be some local jobs for Sri Lankans,” says experts on  businesses and governments on investments.

“But in the longer term, I think the bigger upside potentially for Sri Lanka is to really get tapped into this global trade route system that the Chinese are backing.” or is it?

Story is better explained with a real example like this: The first major loan Sri Lanka took on the project, came from the Chinese government’s Export-Import Bank, or Exim, for $307 million. But to obtain the loan, Sri Lanka was required to accept Beijing’s preferred company, China Harbor, as the port’s builder(all according to a United States Embassy cable from the time, leaked to Wiki Leaks).

That is a typical demand of China for its projects around the world, rather than allowing an open bidding process. Across the region, Beijing’s government is lending out billions of dollars, being repaid at a premium to hire Chinese companies and thousands of Chinese workers.

This sounds very much like the arguments a decade ago, for Chinese investments in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Today it counts as cropper, while money goes back to China and what the parent country is left looking at, for all the talk of “Foreign Investment” is just daily wages to Sri Lankan unskilled labor.

Viewpoint

While Pakistan is likely to be a Chinese Colony in the near future, Dragon is here to play a different game with Sri Lanka. While physical shifting of sweatshops and skilled Chinese labor finding Jobs in Chinese factories, is the way to go in Pakistan, with salary doled out in Yuan and money going back to Chinese banks, is likely to be the reality for Pakistan very soon. Sri Lanka will be played the same way except tone will be hushed and background filled with Christmas music, landscape seemingly colorful with confetti, all smelling Vanilla.

In reality, they will be played same way as others, who have been part of OBOR/CPEC. SEZs, as around Hambantota and the $2.4 billion port city China is building in the commercial capital, Colombo will be in Chinese hands. Both are already given to Chinese to use and shall be operated, financed and used by Chinese with Chinese skilled manpower catering to Chinese coffers.

Sri Lankan government shall be paid null, as they be already repaying loans, by leasing the SEZs. Daily wages shall be provided to unskilled labor of Sri Lanka , even less than what they make today with fishing industry. Latter shall also be taken over by the highly competitive and technologically advanced Chinese Fishing Industry since latter will accrue those rights in lieu of unpaid debt.

Fear-mongering it may be called and the looming crisis casually refuted, but we know Dragon has tasted blood.

16 Jan 2020/Thursday            Written by: Fayaz

INDO – JAPANESE RELATIONS: JITTERS IN CHINESE MEDIA

After the recent Doklam standoff between India and China, hawks in china have been gunning for tough military action against India. However, there are sections of PLA top brass who also think that there is no requirement of tough actions against India. The PLA seems to have matured and taken a more mature route in resolving the crisis rather than pressing the panic button. This is a gesture which is different the way PLA has behaved in the past.  

Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took part in a grand road show in Gujarat and is set to attend a ceremony for the construction of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-speed Rail project, the first of its kind in India.

Some sections of press in India remarked that the two countries’ partnership could be “the cornerstone of a larger coalition … to resist China’s ‘string of pearls’ in the Asia-Pacific region.”  Media was naturally buzzed with stories of Indo- Japanese ties as for countering China. The Indian government is a mature and forward looking in all its senses. Being economical competitor of China, India has always been in the lookout for peace and prosperity. Economic ties between China for India are important for both the countries. Chinese media too was abuzz with activity to down play the closeness between Indo-US and Indo-Japanese relations. The Indian Government is of the view that Chinese are a formidable force in the region and they require to be prepared for the same. Indian side never lets its guard down, thus, require cooperation between other countries for boosting its preparedness.

Indians believe that, the Chinese government is more mature now than in 1965 to wage war of attrition. Indians believe that by being old enemies and economic competitors is not a reason for waging a war. The same is required to sink into the Chinese media. As of now the Chinese media is projecting this cooperation as a initial steps of consolidation into a military alliance. It may be pertinent to note has Indians have time and again rejected alliance even for missile defence shield offered by US in the past.

China’s vast trade with Japan and India greatly dwarfs bilateral trade between India and Japan. Given this, Tokyo and New Delhi are definitely not going to challenge China without giving it serious thought. India’s nationalism should not be mistaken as aggressive stance. It is the basic requirement of a nation to survive in front of a Islamic fundamental society being portrayed by Pakistan. Indian establishment is busy with more serious issues which the Chinese will soon face in the form of Islamic fundamentalism which they fail to recognise while standing next to a terror funding nation. Chinese fail to recognise that the Pakistani establishment is not only sympathize with terror groups but also uses terror to extend its state policy.

Indians want to amicably resolve all the territorial disputes, until resolved they would like to maintain status quo, which should suit both the neighbours. Thus closeness of India with any country in the world should not be seen as a threat with Chinese in any way.

China and India have been great civilisations moreover; Indians have contributed and influenced Chinese society in the past to a great extent. Never in history have both the countries ever confronted each other with military force until 1965.

A strong India and China is in the interest of stability of the region, if they group together they can become the most powerful economies as in the past. Geopolitics is unlikely to go against the geo-economic situation.

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CHINA THREATENS INDIA ONCE AGAIN

Chinese Foreign Ministry issues  documents “Telling Facts and Position on Donglang Standoff” .

 1.On 05 Aug 2017, Tibet News Network published an article titled “Don’t underestimate our determination to defend territorial sovereignty”, written by Ding Hao of Chinese Military Academy.

2.On 02 Aug 2017, the ministry of foreign affairs of China has issued a document “the Facts and China’s positions on the illegal border crossing by Indian border troops  in to Chinese territory at the Sikkim section of China-India border” and has made clear to the international community the truth of the border crossing by Indian troops and the position of Chinese government .  

3.It is said that as on 02 Aug 2017 (AN), still there are 48 Indian soldiers along with bulldozer illegally stranded in Chinese territory.

China threatened a Military Action Against India in two Weeks.  

 China is likely to undertake a small military operation to expel Indian troops at Doklam. The Chinese media reported that such action would be taken in two weeks time. State-owned Global Times quoted Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of Intl Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences that if India refuses to withdraw, China may conduct a small-scale military operation within two weeks”. Hu, however, added that China will inform India’s foreign ministry before undertaking any such operation.