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Lanka a geopolitical battleground between India and China - EDITORIAL

25 Nov 2023 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

In mid-2022 when our country was facing an economic meltdown and bankruptcy, India it was, who came to our rescue by extending us a credit line of over $2 billion. At that time we faced fuel and gas shortages, 12-hour rolling power cuts, food, and medical shortages and many associated problems.
Thanks to the credit line extended by India, within a few months the situation eased. The long queues of vehicles outside fuel depots soon became but a distant memory. 
Food and medicine were soon available, albeit in limited quantities and at a price. A semblance of normalcy has begun to descend on our land.
But a credit line is essentially a loan by another name. We will have to repay the same some time in the future and remain indebted to our benefactor.
While Indian aid helped get us out of our bankrupt situation, more recently India has begun taking exception to particular relations our country enjoys with China.
For instance, when the Chinese research vessel Shiyan 6, arrived in Colombo in October this year. India and one of her close allies -the US- raised concerns over its presence in our port claiming it could compromise India’s security.
Yet, to get out of its indebted situation Sri Lanka needs to be part of China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) which opens new markets and could also help Sri Lanka become part of a global production chain.
Unfortunately, India views such a course of action as being anti-India.
To assuage India’s concerns regarding the presence of ‘Spy Ships’ Sri Lanka together with India drew up a package of criteria, which would ensure vessels entering our waters were not engaged in spying activities which could endanger India’s security.
The reality, however, is that all major military powers maintain a battery of satellites focused on countries they may see as their competitors or enemies. The US has an array of satellites covering Russia. China is said to have the largest number of spy satellites.
Even AI search engines like Google use satellite technology. Footage from Google Maps shows very clearly China’s undersea submarine pens which house its nuclear subs.
If Google, can reveal China’s submarine pens, does China which has much more advanced satellites and tracking devices need to send a ‘Spy Ship’ disguised as a research vessel to Colombo Trincomalee or Hambantota port to check on security measures India may have put in place in the area? It can be done from further afar and without so much fanfare.
To make this situation worse, India has begun raking old coal by criticising Sri Lanka at the United Nations on the issue of the Sri Lanka Tamils.
While criticising Sri Lanka over its handling of the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils, which may be justified, Sri Lankan crimes pale into insignificance in the face of crimes against humanity and war crimes being perpetrated by Israel in Palestine.
Yet, India has today gone overboard to support Israel while it is killing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza in retaliation for an attack the Palestinian organisation Hamas carried out on Israeli settlers occupying Palestinian lands and homes in the Israeli-occupied territories in Palestine.
As of November 6, the UN reported, Israel’s attacks in Palestine had killed over 9,480 Palestinian civilians, including around 3,900 children, and injured over 24,170 in Gaza. About 2,100 people, including over 1,200 children, were either missing, dead, or trapped under the rubble waiting to be rescued in the aftermath of Israeli airstrikes or missile attacks.
Reports show one million thousand Palestinians have been displaced.
Why these double standards?
It is beginning to look as if Sri Lanka is becoming a battleground in the geopolitical power struggle between India and China. While we need to assuage Indian fears of China, we need to make clear to both protagonists our sovereignty will not be exchanged for loans, aid or markets.