28 October, 2021

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China’s New Satrap

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

The Anuradhapura incident yet again establishes that Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa leads a bunch of gun-wielding, drunken, thuggish scoundrels; but CT is so full of this that I can comfortably switch to a different topic. The cardinal point regarding the incident is not the behaviour of the thug, but that Nandasena continues to coddle him close to his racist heart – as expected.

My topic for the day. To begin with I am not saying whether to be a satrap of the People’s Republic is good or bad; readers will have their views. What I do assert is that, good or bad it has happened. Britannica says: “The satrap heads the administration of a province, collects taxes, is the judicial authority, is responsible for internal security and raises and maintains an army”. There is however one respect in which the Lankan satrap differs from this classic Achaemenid model; the financial arrangement is reversed; our stooges do not collect revenue for the Son of Heaven, on the contrary they survive on what the Middle Kingdom drops into their begging bowl. This has long been the fate of the Paksas and to a degree short-lived Yahapalana. The satrap is all powerful within his domain so long as the interests of the empire and imperial ‘investments’ are protected and provided the satrap comes aggressively to the defence of the empire in the face of foreign challengers.

The Colombo Gazette of 16 September reports under the heading “Sri Lanka tells UN not to interfere in Xinjiang and Hong Kong” that we had lectured the UN Human Rights Council that the “principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign states is the very bedrock on which the international order is founded and external forces should not seek to interfere in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, which are integral parts of the People’s Republic China”. A more abject, word-for-word repetition of a standard PRC formula is hard to imagine. Lanka has all but formally accepted and enunciated its status as satrapy of its masters in Beijing.    

It is of course arguable that the Gota-Mahinda outfit had no other option and that is true. The government is utterly broke, the Central Bank is on its knees apropos foreign debt servicing, and food shortages are spreading. We have had crises before but never, not even at the height of the civil war, was it so disconsolate. There seems to be no way out for the Rajapaksas but to throw themselves at China’s feet and beg. Of course not only the Paksas but forerunner UNP governments from JR’s time are no less responsible for Lanka’s wretched state. But that’s a matter apart; I want to focus on the future.   

China watchers have observed a significant new thrust in Chinese foreign policy – aggressive determination to assert not just its global economic power (Belt & Road Initiative for example) but also a resolve make the world more pliable to its interpretation of law, contracts and treaties. It now wishes to promote, extraterritorially, its own interpretation of intellectual property and the rule of law. For example Chinese courts have ruled that disputes between Chinese companies and foreign entities in any part of the world should be settled according to Chinese law and precedent determinations of Chinese court. If this is extended to Sri Lanka for example a dispute between a Chinese developer or investor and the Harbour City Authority will have to be settled in Chinese courts. Things have gone further, a court in Wuhan made a ruling in a dispute between two foreign companies, Samsung and Ericsson. The losing side appealed to a US court but in the end had to make an out of court settlement that was favourable to the winner in the Wuhan court. The point is that Sri Lanka’s satrapy to China will have far reaching legal and institutional implications; too many to explore in this short column.

The aforementioned Colombo Gazette article also reports that our beggar-in-chief GL Peiries declared that the Lankan Geneva delegation notes with alarm “the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Venezuela. We deplore that food supplies and essential medicines were blocked during the pandemic by freezing Venezuelan assets. We call for the lifting of these restrictions on Venezuela. Sri Lanka is of the view that any action aimed at protection and promotion of human rights in a country must have the consent of the country concerned”. Obviously a very self-serving comment! GLP also called on the Council to recognize the action taken by Nicaragua to respect and promote human rights and to engage in a positive dialogue with the government of Nicaragua

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Latest comments

  • 18
    1

    The Buddha threw away his inherited wealth and lead a life with a begging bowl: Bhikkus follow his footsteps. Sri Lankan governments inherited a prosperous country from the British, squandered it and they preferred the way of the Buddha and the bhikkus!

    • 7
      2

      Sri Lankan Bhikkus don’t beg …they live in luxury ;luxury cars, the lower ranks openly drink alcohol the higher ranks have luxury whisky delivered, they have virgins for sex both young boys and girls Whereas apparently Muslims only get them in heaven

      • 7
        1

        Rajash, Muslims in Hell get only one virgin, and she is 72 years old.

  • 14
    0

    Prof, Lanka being controlled by anyone is far better than Lanka being alone. But situation may get worse with China. The reason I say this is, the largest real estate investor in China Evergrande is now Nogrande. Recently they failed to pay the $ 100 million interest on debt bonds, which amount to 350 Billions (total debt) mostly funded by large Chinese banks and private investors. If this entity alone goes bankrupt it will leave a huge hole in already weak banking/financial system. The govt will have to takeover such mess to save face and prevent further panic,uncertainty and possible global crisis. . The bad loans carried by most Chinese banks are not a public secret, but the severity is unknown due to lack of transparency. Many of those loans were provided under govt pressure to stimulate economy. The other issue is Xi,s new-found greed as life term president, made him to take radical steps, including going after autonomous global conglomerates (just like Putin),to now toe the line. Tencent and Bitcoin industry are his recent victims. Speculations are Chinese banks are as dysfunctional as previous U.S banks/ financial crisis.

    • 2
      0

      Dear Mr Chiv,
      I undertake a 2000 word summary of what I think is happening in China next Sunday 26th in my regular longer weekend column CT. There sre more fundamental things than Evergrande, banks and Xi at play. Hope you can find the time to peruse.
      akd

  • 15
    1

    Sri Lanka has now leased its mouth also to China.

    • 5
      0

      Ajay Sundara Devan
      Sri Lanka has now leased its mouth also to China.
      ======
      when it comes to leasing he mouth it’s a reciprocal agreement.
      Sri Lanka mouthing there is Uyghur Muslim issue in China or there is no HR violation in Hong Kong and in turn China mouthing for Sri Lanka

  • 9
    0

    Sri Lanka has now not only leased to China but also to USA. Mahinda goes to China, Basil goes to USA, Gota goes to both China and USA. Hope India will get back Lord Buddha and the King Viyaya’s children from this island to their father land.

  • 4
    2

    The photo is a Chinese citizen meeting an American citizen.

  • 4
    0

    I am interested to know a new criterion for becoming a satrap. Going by that there is quite a long queue for becoming a satrap of China– headed by Cuba and Russia somewhere close by.
    The publicly declared positions on HK and Xinjiang are the same across the board.
    It is effectively a geopolitical North-South divide.
    *
    Has it occurred to the writer that by defending China on matters of its internal affairs the spokesperson for this country was also building a defence for his side?
    *
    That matter apart, there is one more stick to beat China with: Its president has declared that China will not build any more coal power plants either at home or abroad.
    Very naughty.

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