15 November, 2018

Blog

Cat-And-Mouse Games & The Political Implications Of MR-Modi Meeting

By Rasika Jayakody

Rasika Jayakody

China’s entry into the rural infrastructure and plantation sector in Sri Lanka is an indication of what the Asian superpower is becoming, or has already become, to Sri Lanka: a rich friend slowly buying you over by throwing money at your every problem.

In the first three years of this government, China’s involvement in Sri Lanka was confined to several mammoth development projects in Colombo and down south. China also acquired operations of the newly constructed port in Hambantota on a 99-year lease. Although China’s move to acquire Hambantota alarmed India, there wasn’t any explicit show of resentment by New Delhi, at least on diplomatic and political levels.

This year, however, China advanced into two other sectors in Sri Lanka – rural infrastructure development (in the North) and the plantation sector. It is no coincidence that Northern development and the plantation sector are two areas that India, China’s greatest contender in the region, is deeply sensitive about.

In April, state-run China Railway Beijing Engineering Group Co Ltd won a more than $300 million project bid to build 40,000 houses in Jaffna, with China’s Exim providing the financing. Although the project has been halted due to residents demanded brick houses instead of the concrete structures planned by the firm, China’s presence in Jaffna sent an alarming sign to India.

Then last month, China committed to investing US $30-40 million to assist Sri Lanka’s rubber industry – still a fraction of the overall investments planned for the plantation sector of Sri Lanka. Although unclear whether the investment will be limited to the rubber industry or if China will pump money into the tea industry as well, it is clear that China is eying Sri Lanka’s plantation sector and the Sri Lankan government is willingly holding the door open.

It is immaterial whether or not the current Sri Lankan government is deliberately playing the ‘China card’ against India. The reality is that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government – desperate to show some ‘results’ on the ground before an all-important Presidential election in 2020 – has limited options when it comes to financiers. And although the current government is described by the opposition as neo-liberal and exceedingly Western-oriented, the West has been of very little help in terms of FDIs and foreign aid. In China, they have found a lavish spender, willing to lead the government out of this perceived ‘lack of development’ before the next election, and in this, it seems, investment partners are chosen on a ‘first come -first served’ basis.

How is it that China has gained an edge over India? It has, in my opinion, something to do with the pace at which the two countries move on the investment decision making and delivery fronts. India has frustrated the Sri Lankan government more than once by taking too long to deliver results, whereas China has been quite consistent with delivery and with meeting the deadlines – deadlines which are, too often, tied to political realities. Therefore, with a crucial election around the corner, leaders of the government cannot see a better partner than in China, to prove ‘rapid development’ to their electorate. China, understandably, is using this increasing dependency on it, to position itself strategically in the Indian Ocean, right under the nose of India.

China’s growing presence in new areas of the Sri Lankan economy is a discomforting for India. But, how can India fight it? India is clearly no longer in any position to beat China on the aid front. The only possible way New Delhi can ‘counterbalance’ China’s growing influence in Sri Lanka is through political manoeuvring – in a cat-and-mouse game India and Sri Lanka have been playing for more than four decades now.

It is against this backdrop that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was invited to New Delhi by his long-standing friend Subramanian Swamy, a BJP MP and the leader of the Virat Hindustan Sangam. The former Sri Lankan President’s presence in New Delhi has sparked a debate on if the Modi administration orchestrated the invitation extended by Swamy.

Rajapaksa, it must be pointed out, had a rocky relationship with India at the time he fell out of power in January, 2015. He even publicly accused the Indian intelligence agency of conspiring to topple his government. The dynamics, however, have shifted over the past three years and Rajapaksa’s proxy party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, won the Local Government election earlier this year and have vowed to return to power at the next national election.

It can be assumed that Modi has tapped into Swamy’s network to repair India’s relationship with the Rajapaksas. Padma Rao Sundarji, a senior foreign correspondent at Asian Age said, “Swamy is to the BJP what the equally outspoken, but not as successful, Mani Shankar Aiyar was once to the Congress — a via medium for the party to talk and act divergently and therewith test public mood and sentiment over a given issue.” Therefore, one can safely assume that there is more to Rajapaksa’s visit to India than the public lecture organized by Swamy’s party in New Delhi.

Perhaps this is Modi’s way of sending a signal to Colombo, in light of the latter’s growing reliance on China. Maybe India wants to remind Sri Lanka that no one is indispensable in the game of power, and there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics. But what India fails to comprehend is that this ‘cat-and-mouse’ game will do little to prevent China from holding sway over Sri Lanka. India must begin to speak in a language the current Sri Lankan government understands, and the only language a country whose total debt stands at Rs. 10.7 trillion understands is money, not ‘geo-politics’.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 7
    5

    “India must begin to speak in a language the current Sri Lankan government understands, and the only language a country whose total debt stands at Rs. 10.7 million understands is money, not ‘geo-politics’. That is the only language the previous President understands as well, so no need for cat and mouse games. India open up your wallets or let China gobble up Sri Lanka. China’s investments in the North and Plantations is a very crucial move.

    • 8
      5

      Worlds oldes democracy India wants a fascist Rajapaksa dictatorship in Sri Lanka!? Subramanian Swamy says Mahinda Rajapaksa next president of Sri Lanka.

      Why no support for a democratic Sri Lanka!?

      • 1
        0

        Oldest Democracy?

        • 6
          1

          SJ

          Is China the oldest democracy?
          Maybe Pol Pot’s Cambodia.

  • 5
    1

    Quoting from Daily Mirror of 13/9/18.
    “Earlier, introducing the speaker, Dr. Swamy said: “Mr Rajapaksa is the frontrunner for the next government and hopefully he will be President of Sri Lanka soon. He took decisive action against terrorism and cleaned up the country. As a result Sri Lanka is today a favoured destination of international investment.” Swamy obviously speaking on behalf of Modi. India’s game plan is quite clear. So it is Chappatti and not Egg Hoppers.

    • 1
      0

      All gentlemen got abraded into Lady Lankawe will be forcefully fed with Appa diplomacy, no exception. Battle never was a war! What needed to be realized is this Supramaniya Swami went to Obama in behalf of Sonia to have the 2012 UNHRC resolution redirect in favor of Lankawe. Now he thinks he can fool Old King and bring in line with Modi’s ideas. Modi has been used so many times by Ranil so far. They got him down to Up Country to open up a fake hospital. They made him a cooli messenger in the Kanthalai Sugar factory racketeering.
      One time SJV played musical chair between UNP-SLFP-UNP.

      They both took advantage of him when each time he went to them. After 40 years of this pathetic reeling between SLFP and UNP, he realized his situation and convened Vattukkottai Convention. America and India has not been any better than SJV. Because they are governments and their employees have strict term limits and the elections and power changes are realities in their lands, they will take much more than 40 years to come their senses. Every time a new employee comes to Colombo on their behalf, that one take one step back from the lessons the previous employee had learned. One those two counties have their lesion learned fully, Lankawe will be another Hong Kong, if not in economic progress, but in ownership of China. This is not fear mongering. We have abundant history on this to talk, over flow any CT’s volumes.

  • 5
    2

    Rs. 10.7 million? You are going to say in Trillions I suppose. Please don’t underestimate the Rajapaksas, they are great bunch of thieves!!! Their houses spread across US alone worth more than US$ 500 Million and Gota Rajapkse’s son living in a palacial house in Los Angeles.

    • 0
      0

      Sacred Bull dust worth US$ 500 million. They don’t call houses palaces in LA.

    • 0
      0

      MirakRajBanda, Have you seen this palatial house? Can you publish the address, also the addresses of houses that you claim “Rajapakshasa’s own spread across, I am planning a trip there and I can make a pictorial account for the Colombo Telegraph if . you give me the locations, thank you in advance.

  • 1
    0

    With those words coming from Sub-Swamy, Prabha must be turning in his grave.

    • 5
      0

      SUB Swamy is fully comparable to that of our Dayana Jayathilaka.
      Telling something and doing and behaving totally different.

      Not few months ago, DJ was very like only criticising CURRENT GOVT, but his take over the role of Ambassardorship to RUSSIA lately came into being all of sudden.

      Lankens and their academics too would do anything and everything when it is to please their personal gains. How can DJ face CT readers today ? As was the case in early 90ties, has he been PANT-DOWN all along ? These men would do anything for their perks ?
      What is the different between those who gather to colombo lately and DJ like personaliteis. Both work for their supper right ?

  • 3
    0

    The writer, just like all others in CT, once aging, trying to empty academicals portrayal. But our simple words never went wrong in CT.
    When China’s Commission cesspool was swirling in the air, the three pigs swimming in that were Karunanidhi, Old King and Sonia. Old King transferred part of that money to defeat Susan Rice and bring John Kerry as the Secretary so they would be free to go ahead and play their China games. Yes, the money speak in, but not FDI money, it is commission money. China, in plain and simple manner, directly transferred the Loan proceeds to election funding without any bookkeeping gimmicks to hide the illegality. But Ranil demanded NYT to submit evidence for that if he had to take action on that. That is how he protected China. But Mahathir cancelled $15 Billion dollar China contracts right after he took office. Ranil did not cancel one contract of China, but he stealthy exonerated all corruptions of China and added more while elephants and sold part of the lands. The commission money speaks, but if it is spiced with Communal-ism –anti-Tamil activity.
    China paid $1.1 Billion to the Harbor lease. But now Japan has paid $1.5. But Let’s wait & see if there will be any tilt on that harbor administration or if Japan can get upper hand in controlling the north.

  • 2
    0

    Anything India receiving now is the return of the Parippu India dropped in the North. But there is nothing for the Sikh army suppressing JVP in 1970, or Katchadivu donation. Lankawe will have the North so firmly Iron Dorm-ed by China. This is not China’s string of Perl in the Indian Ocean. This is the Lankawe Iron Dorm in the North. For that dream becomes true, not just the South, nor even North, Lankawe woman will ease any part of her sari to China to freely enjoy. The proof of that is in the way Ranil protected China in Vietnam. The real lease of Hangbangtota is 200 years. China has a term in the lease to have rewritten in anyway it wants. But Ranil said the lease was only 70 years and he does not see China’s loans as threatening. Then, can he explain, why he needs the proof from NYT to investigate a crime broke out by his own F word CIDs and was reported in Yahapalanaya Media Daily News, thoroughly with all evidences?
    It is not the loan for white elephant project s (it is not investment money) China is pumping in Lankawe, It is not the Commission that UNP and SLFP politicians are sweeping from China, it is the “Mahavamsa stipulation” that Lankawe has to be protected from Tamils for Buddha to return is the one holding India out of entering the island Ceylon.
    India can pump in Trillions, but it is not landing in Lankawe until Tamils are ward off from the land.

    • 0
      0

      A true mallung of history.
      Carry on regardless.

      • 3
        0

        SJ,

        Thank you for your permission. We were waiting.

        Are you still revolving inside the Sirimavo left circle or in he free world? A lonely soul is suffering inside the circle she looked, without a liberator?

  • 2
    0

    In the ‘Cat and Mouse games’ described by Rasika Jayakody, the Cats are getting cleverer by the day. The mouse is addicted to the language/religion-divide cheese bait. The cheese lasted seventy years and the only way to get rid of it is to bury it.
    The leaders of the ‘Mouse’ having chewed up the stash left by the prudent ancestors, have gone into selling ‘Debt’ to the highest bidder. Instead of feeling ashamed they flaunt the total ‘Debt’ of Rs. 10.7 trillion as a commodity. The MR-Modi meeting is strictly business.

  • 0
    2

    Mahinda along with butcher.gota massacred well over 60000 innocent men women and children. Modi also massacred about 3000 in gujarat.
    So both of them are.killers.
    Getting together is nothing new.

    • 1
      0

      Are you talking about 89′ Bheeshanaya period?

      • 4
        1

        Soma wake up.

        That is different movie. 89 different movie, 2009 different movie in the Mahawamsa “Lies Agreed Upon” Series. in 1810s movie Mahawamsawood chopped children’s head and made mothers to motor it with their hands. Then massacred additional 2000 in one family; captured their own king and plundered the Palace. ……….. You just think it is all same movie?
        Mahawamsawood is the record holder on releasing “lies Agreed Upon”. 1956,1958,1961,1971,1973,1977,1983…….

  • 0
    2

    Hinduthwa is no match for Maoism.

    MR kicked the ass of the Indian Empire when he wiped out the Indian terrorist arm LTTE.

    India managed to install Sirisena with Chandrika using Sobitha to divide the Sinhala vote and Nanasara to alienate Christians and Muslims and deliver with the Indian block vote.

  • 5
    0

    When push comes to shove, you have to engage in realpolitik. Anti-Indian Sinhala nationalism is just rhetoric meant to humour the Baiyos.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.