21 May, 2024

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Modi’s Wolf Warrior Diplomacy Opens A Window For China In South Asia

By Asanga Abeyagoonasekera

Asanga Abeygoonasekera

“The Indian Government’s questioning of US democracy is to cover up BJP’s domestic misadventure in curtailing democracy, and Narendra Modi’s vilification of Muslims during the election will impact India’s immediate periphery”.

“China will benefit from Iran’s diplomatic shift to South Asia and Modi’s Wolf Warrior Diplomacy.”

“The recent victory of the pro-China political party in the Maldives will see China double its efforts to influence India’s surrounding nations.”

“Why did the Sri Lankan Government lease out an International Airport to India and Russia?”

“Economic challenges have been the critical narrative until recently in Sri Lanka, when another narrative is brewing to enter the political race concerning national security.”

Rafah, a southern Gazan city, shelters more than a million Palestinians. Israeli government spokesman David Mencer says it is “moving ahead” with its military operation in Rafah despite the opposition from the US and Europe. The human agony and death caused by Israel are unbearable; at least 34,262 Palestinians have been killed and 77,229 wounded since the beginning of the brutal war.

The war in the Middle East is gradually sweeping its way to the Western capitals; the unsuccessful crackdown targeting student protests at Columbia University had a spiral effect on other Universities, raising questions about US policies towards Israel and its internal practice of democracy, ‘freedom of expression’. Seeing this moment as a diplomatic opportunity, the US partner India raised concerns about the US losing its balance, saying, “There has to be the right balance between freedom of expression, a sense of responsibility and public safety and order”. Further, Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal explained, “Democracies in particular should display this understanding in regard to other fellow democracies. After all, we are all judged by what we do at home and not what we say abroad“.

The Indian comment is a clear signal to the US to understand the vulnerabilities of their own partner in South Asia. The US significantly depends on India’s contribution to the ‘Indo-Pacific’ strategy, where the US envisage promoting norms and values of democracy for a rules-based order together with India. It was also a targeted reply by India to cover up PM Modi’s domestic misadventure in curtailing democracy, where BJP, the ruling party, routinely used hateful and racist language against the 200 million Muslims in India. While Modi called Muslims “infiltrators” with “more children” in his campaign, it is surprising he wished to protect the democratic rights of pro-Palestine protestors in the US. The newfound aggressiveness by suppressing the Muslim community and the hubris of India will be India’s folly in the years to come. Modi’s vilification of Muslims during the election will impact India’s immediate periphery directly.

Iran in South Asia

Already, the present geopolitical environment in the region is a concern, especially for Muslim countries in South Asia. The recent Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to South Asia was a notable diplomatic manoeuvre that drew South Asia closer to Teheran, another comforting factor for China. The new Iran-South Asia alignment is rightly assessed by Michael Kugelman that ‘Iran’s growing ties with China, thanks to a 2021 strategic agreement, create opportunities for partnership in a region where Beijing is the most powerful outside actor.’ Further, assessing, ‘India-Iran relations have lapsed due to reduced Indian energy imports and the current Middle East crisis, which has seen India back Israel in its war with Hamas’. Adding to its usual projection of anti-west, Teheran has strategically used an anti-Israel narrative as a diplomatic tool in South Asia to bring the Muslim population closer to Teheran. Such as expressing interest in expanding trade with Bangladesh and a pledge with Pakistan to finalise a free trade agreement. In Sri Lanka, President Raisi inaugurated an Iran-backed hydropower project. In 2023, Maldives, reestablished formal ties with Iran, the small island in the Indian Ocean, has already demonstrated its shift away from India from its parliamentary results.

China in Maldives

While the Indian election is ongoing, the pro-China political party won the Parliament election with a landslide in the Maldives. Maldives is an island located in India’s traditional sphere of influence in the Indian Ocean, which has drifted towards China’s influence due to the successful implementation of Beijing’s strategic thinking to move India’s immediate periphery closer to China. Maldivian President Muizzu’s political party, People’s National Congress (PNC), won 66 seats, while its allies took 9, a 75-seat control of the 93-member house, enough to change the constitution if he wishes. With absolute power, Mizzu’s pro-China posture, where he targets India in his ‘India-out’ campaign, would be further strengthened and influenced by China. There is always a danger from the absolute majority towards democratic practices. Mizzu would need to borrow a few lessons from the Sri Lankan politics of the past regime of Rajapaksa’s parliamentary majority. In the Maldives, China will double its efforts to sustain Mizzu in power and influence the other surrounding nations of India, especially the closest nation to Maldives, Sri Lanka. From a strategic point of view, one could visualise that China is attempting to sandwich India from both the North and the South, thus overstretching India’s resources and possibly reaching a breaking point.

Upcoming Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka

Razik Mohamed Cadeer Khan, who had earlier testified at the Easter Sunday Terror attack Presidential Commission, revealed to the Sri Lankan media that the bombers conducted the terror attack with the assistance of Indian Intelligence RAW and its head Ajith Doval was behind the attack”. This allegation has no credibility due to India’s early warnings before the bombing. However, the timing of the comment is essential. This was the first media interview revelation directing an external country, India. The revelation was five months before the presidential race commenced in Sri Lanka. There seems to be a shift in narrative from ISIS towards India, with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s statement to the Criminal Investigation Department. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith from the Catholic Church, who has significant weight in forming a political opinion, explained in his 5th year of Easter Sunday terror attack commemoration his displeasure of the present regime of Wickremesinghe due to their lack of commitment towards the investigation. Cardinal expressed his desire for the two mainstream candidates, Sajith Premadasa, the opposition leader, and Anura Kumara Dissanayake (AKD), the National People’s Party (NPP) leader. The two candidates have submitted their written commitment to the Catholic Church to conduct an independent investigation and prosecute the perpetrators. What was concluded as an ISIS attack has moved in a different direction with the newfound information revealed by a Channel 4 documentary where the bombers had prior contact with the intelligence service and the eight points indicated by the Catholic Church’s investigation. Since the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, triggered by the people uprising, daily economic challenges have been the critical narrative until recently, when another narrative is brewing to enter the political race concerning national security. I captured three factors during my visit to Sri Lanka in February. The first is the re-emergence of new evidence from the Easter Sunday bombing, which is already taking place.

Second, Sri Lanka is becoming an Indian sub-colony through its strategic infrastructure grab, targeting the power sector, ports, airports, Indian currency flow, transport network, etc. Again, this narrative is already expressed by mainstream hardline nationalist politicians. This ‘Sri Lanka becoming an Indian sub-colony’ narrative will be strengthened with the government’s decision to lease the Mattala International Airport to India and Russia for 30 years amidst the campaign trail. Shaurya Aeronautics (Pvt) Ltd of India and Airports of Regions Management Company of Russia will have to undergo the same risks and consequences the Chinese had to undergo after leasing the Hambantota port for 99 years. It is not a prudent exercise to award strategic infrastructure during an election campaign; the public will view the Government’s rush to award at this period as more of a financial deal to fund a political campaign than gaining economic contribution to the nation. It is as if India has taken a page from China in this regard. According to Anura Kumara Dissanayake (AKD), there are flaws in the government tender process.

The political leader AKD from the National People’s Party (NPP), who managed to raise its profile after his Indian visit in February 2024, said in a BBC interview, “Adani[Indian business magnet] has deviated from the tender process in Sri Lanka. Suppose Adani engaged in the same business tactics he used to secure the wind power projects in Sri Lanka in his own country, India. In that case, I am certain he would not be allowed”—questioning the irregularity and corruption involved in the project. The two wind power energy sites were selected in Mannar and Pooneryn in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, estimated at around US$ 442 million, with a power generation capacity of 250MW in Mannar and 234MW in Pooneryn. To understand the Adani project further, I interviewed a senior field researcher from a reputed research institute in Sri Lanka, who gathered data for the Adani wind power project. According to the Researcher, “Adani wind power project has not considered the environmental biodiversity in Mannar; there was no public participation nor understanding of the impact on the environment.  There was corruption to speed up the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process approved in a rush”.  There were protests in the Mannar where the senior environmentalists opposed the project. Adani tactics are alarming and require immediate comprehensive reassessment to ensure transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, the concerns fall on the government’s deaf ears. The Indian business magnate Adani, popularly known among Indians for his backdoor deals pleasing Prime Minister Modi, will further cement the ‘sub-colony’ narrative before the Sri Lankan presidential elections.

Third, Sri Lankans, especially the policy circle, view India as an offensive player due to its newfound behaviour of arrogance as a regional hegemon gone out of control. One leading Sri Lankan scholar speaking to this author advised, “This newfound behaviour is for the Indian election, and it will gradually slow down after the election. India does not like to be told they are wrong, so don’t tell them they are wrong”. This arrogance will impact India’s trajectory and India’s own ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. The Economist rightly assessed this, pointing out that he[Modi] will have to temper his autocratic impulses’ and ‘his party[BJP] will need to curb its chauvinistic politics. What materialised in the last few months was disturbing; an opposition candidate was arrested, summoning foreign diplomats from the US and Germany, targeting the minority Muslim community, claiming an Island [Kachateevu], which belongs to Sri Lanka, and Indian Intelligence operations carried out in foreign nations exposed by Washington Post are few areas. This newfound behaviour ‘The Wolf Warrior’ diplomacy at the tail-end of Modi 2.0 requires a quick recalibration from an aggressive, offensive posture to a more defensive posture in Modi 3.0.

In India’s present aggressiveness, China has found a welcoming space in India’s immediate neighbourhood. The recent visit of Ms. Sun Haiyan, the deputy minister of the Central Committee of the International Department of the Communist Party of China, to Sri Lanka was a clear sign in this regard. China’s aggressive Wolf Warrior Diplomacy, a concern for India, has reincarnated into an Indian avatar, emulated by India with backdoor business deals by Adani and stealth operations by its intelligence agents on foreign soil. The shift of the RAW Chief’s ‘defense’ to ‘defensive offence’ has become a dangerous concern to larger nations such as the US, Canada and India’s neighbourhood. Nonetheless, China has successfully influenced India’s immediate periphery and won over its neighbouring countries one by one, and a successful Chinese strategy was implemented with proven results, such as in Maldives. At the same time, Iran has entered the region, bringing the Islamic and anti-Israel countries closer to Teheran. India has failed to understand the political and security trends in the immediate vicinity due to its overshadowed Wolf Warrior style diplomacy, an open window for China to expand its influence in South Asia. The political and security assessment is predetermined with the hubris of regional hegemony rather than calculating the reality. The newfound domestic political projection of a place for a ‘Bharath-centric view’ and ‘Hindutva’ propagated by the ruling party has equipped Modi to strengthen his Wolf Warrior Diplomacy.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    “Wolf Worrier”?
    Worrying indeed.

    • 1
      0

      Hello SJ,
      Our self-confessed Security Expert should learn a little more English and possibly Chinese Culture. “Wolf Worrier” instead of “Wolf Warrior”.
      In Mid Wales where I used to work “Sheep Worrier” was a Euphemism for Bestiality. Nobody in their right mind can conceive of “Wolf Worrier”
      Here is the real meaning “Wolf warrior diplomacy is confrontational and combative, with its proponents denouncing any perceived criticism of the Chinese government”
      Best regards

      • 1
        0

        LS,
        .
        see, how indinas look at the acitvities of Maldives.
        India is clearly eying at political developments of Muizi s govt in Maldives.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GcY0D0gfu0
        .
        So would SRILANKA ever be easy to get rid of the big brother ?I think only a leader with non-aligned thoughts can balance it. Sajith is behavling like a teenager in terms of ISRAEL AND PALSTINA issue, to be on the good books of MUSLIM voters in srilanka.
        :
        Does AKD come with the capabilites ? He should expose his thoughts about his foreign policy. when would they do so ?

  • 2
    2

    “victory of the pro-China political party in the Maldives”
    There is strong resentment of Indian meddling there but that is not being pro-China or inviting Chinese meddling.
    Maldives relies heavily on tourism, and is best served by a policy of nonalignment.
    India’s threat to discouraging Indian tourists to visit the Maldives seems to have backfired very badly.
    In diplomacy India should learn from China than from the US.

  • 3
    1

    Frankly, what s this article really about?
    The author’s random thoughts in one gloomy early morning?

    • 5
      8

      “The two wind power energy sites were selected in Mannar and Pooneryn in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, estimated at around US$ 442 million, with a power generation capacity of 250MW in Mannar and 234MW in Pooneryn”
      That’s about 484 MW for 442 million USD. No loan involved. We took a 1.5 billion USD loan for the 900MW in Norochcholai. We still have to import coal for Norochcholai.
      So, what is the author complaining about? Birds?
      “Shaurya Aeronautics (Pvt) Ltd of India and Airports of Regions Management Company of Russia will have to undergo the same risks and consequences the Chinese had to undergo after leasing the Hambantota port for 99 years.”
      Where has the author been for the last few years? Has he not heard that the port is now profitable under its new management?

      • 0
        4

        OC,
        If your numbers are right project cost is accurate and accountable, if you assign the USD 375 Million to the “GOOD WILL AND NEGOTIATING CONSULTANT’S FEES”, that was supposed to have been paid by the EXECUTOR of the Project (CHINA …… Whatever INC) to you know the Consultant!!!??? Left hand passed (behind the back) to the Right Hand and straight to Bank in Santa Monica Principality and buy Boeing aircraft, stored in Kampala, UGANDA!!! Actual cost is only USD 1,125,000!!!??? And Lakvijaya I is a refurbished plant, “after dismantling existing Chinese PS”, 10 years running/operation!!!??? USD 1,250/MW Lakvijaya against USD 921/MW – AMBANI seems better devil!!!??? It is well-known fat when people are contributing to work together for SUCCESS on % basis, they tend to GRAB THE HIGHER FIGURE!!!??? It is understandably Favourable for both on the GIVE-AND-TAKE drama!!?? Bigger slice of the even bigger CAKE!!?? More the merrier!!!??? Oops!?

    • 0
      0

      Hello SJ,
      He must have spent a few days with John Bolton😉.
      Best regards

      • 0
        0

        LS
        A reasonable thesis.

  • 0
    3

    Asanga: this is disingenuous crap for your US funders?@
    Lets talk of American Wolf Warriors for a change.
    After all the US is the biggest bully around the world with its 750 military bases, state sponsored ISIS terrorists and drug peddlers..
    You know that the Easter attack was a US-Saudi-Israel op.
    The Zion Church in Batticloa being an own goal for cover up!
    Dont bullshit us and do your country a disservice.
    The Americans and their EU colonial mafia are done. This is the Asist 21st Century and a damn good thing that Modi and China find common cause against the Fake Democracy and Human Rights bunk of Donald Lu et al.

    • 1
      1

      “You know that the Easter attack was a US-Saudi-Israel op.”
      Could be, couldn’t be, one can never be sure.
      But how come the Indians knew about it, and how come President Sirisena chose to ignore the warnings? What are those moves to cover up all about.
      *
      ‘One size fits all’ theories seldom fit any.

      • 1
        1

        SJ, Re Easter attack, don’t go too far out to save your buddies. Even children know that it was a local game done to create chaos to bring in the next president. But God’s justice comes in unexpected ways to save our nation from incapable rulers, where he has some of his family too. All nations finally belong to him whether we know it or not.

        • 0
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          david-the-goner
          Who are my buddies, may I please know?
          This kind of cheap trick to ‘win’ a debate is not something that even the Devil would hesitate to play.

          • 0
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            d-t-g
            This kind of cheap trick to ‘win’ a debate is something that even the Devil would hesitate to play.

      • 2
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        “But how come the Indians knew about it, and how come President Sirisena chose to ignore the warnings? “

        How come Yasir Arafat knew about the assassination of Rajiv weeks earlier, though he informed Hindian authorities who had chosen to ignore it?

      • 0
        0

        SJ, What is the evidence for a US-Saudi-Israel op when it was India that warned Sirisena, who got out of country without even a replacing authority, till it was all over. He covered up for the Mulans one of whom is married to RC. Why attack RC and not expect judgment.

        • 0
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          dtg
          I think that you need serious language training.
          Why are you asking me for something that I did not say, when I was only making an observation on another’s comment?
          Prior to that you associated me with the bombers, calling them ‘my buddies’.
          You are TRULY PATHETIC.

          • 0
            0

            SJ, Do not get offended as no ill will is meant, except perhaps some unintended misunderstanding which if I did, I am sorry.

    • 1
      0

      Hello Dinuk,
      What concrete evidence do you have for “a US-Saudi-Israel op”?
      I knew for certain that Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Embassy about 3 days after the event. I heard the recordings made by the Turkish Intelligence Agencies. Apparently there was also Video evidence (one of my colleagues watched it) of the killing.
      I don’t expect you to have that sort of evidence, but if you did many people would be very interested.
      Best regards

  • 1
    0

    Part I
    Frankly this is hard reading for me because I was trying to figure out what the author is attempting to portray. Finally, I satisfied myself (perhaps salving my conscience) that the author was more or less presenting a situation report centered around geo-politics affecting this region and the behavior of political leaders (supported by their catchers). Wolf-warrior diplomacy. Isn’t this in simple terms, aggressive behavior that may include intimidation? I am yet to find a political leader who appear to emerge as a power to reckon with who has not practiced this. In the yester-year John Foster Dulles, a former Secretary of State of the US, was known for his “Dullesian Threats”. It was not labelled as wolf-warrior diplomacy then. Hitler was promoting the “Aryan” race with the Swastika logo exterminating the Jews. Wasn’t he and his cohorts doing the same thing when they were “talking” to other nations excluding the Axis Powers? India is not only asserting its might in the Indian Ocean but making its presence in the South China sea and selling its own brand of missiles to the Philippines. What is not surprising is if Modi & Co does not practice Wolf-warrior diplomacy.

  • 1
    0

    Part II
    Wolf warrior diplomacy, a sugar-coated term for bullying through aggressive behavior was first affixed to some Chinese diplomats. Whether it is China, India, or United States or any other I see no reason to object this as long as it perceives that it would serve their respective national interest, (Would it?) except it looks ugly and uncouth, difficult for the man at the receiving end. You start this in the diplomatic tables of negotiations and when it expands with people to people contacts only then you will find the locals deciding to push the big country out of their national space (Eg. India out campaign gaining ground in Maldives and the author indicating such possibilities in Sri Lanka.) In that context if India is becoming loathsome to its neighborhood, then China leap forwarding to grab the opportunity is not a surprise. Therefore, it is in the interest of every country to have an internal self-checking mechanism to correct its posture to secure its national interest. But would this work or for that matter would this mechanism be ever established if the political leadership is becoming megalomaniacal? Sycophancy reigns in such a space of governance.

    • 1
      4

      Good Sense,
      You are right. Some still can’t get their heads round the idea that the foreign policy of countries is designed to serve their own interest, and nobody else’s, period. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Public statements are full of terms like Pancha Seela or Co-prosperity,
      but the real world is full of worried wolves, as the author puts it.

  • 2
    0

    Part III
    Leadership megalomania? Yes! We saw in Hitler called Fuhrer and “Heil Hitler” is the standard salutation. We saw it in Prabhakaran also called “Thalaiver”. Even in our own national space we find the “Nayakathuma”, all knowing and always correct creature. But the terms Fuhrer, Thalaiver and Nayakathuma has the same meaning of leader. Of course, it has not graduated up to “Great Leader” and “Dear Leader” as seen in other jurisdictions who have a reputation for execution by anti-aircraft guns. Modi 2.0 becoming a Modi 3.0? It is up to Narendra Damodardas Modi himself and no other, as sycophants will never tell him what is correct but say something only to please his psyche. Sincere friendship (“Kalyana Mithra”)! What nonsense! Lord Buddha revealed that the very existence of Buddhism depends on sincere friendship. If ever a jawan or a sepoy in the Indian Officialdom describes my comments that I am too soft on China, then it is not a surprise as they thrive on sycophancy. Both India and China have a definite, useful role to play in the global stage. Their leaders shouldn’t do something “silly” to satisfy their psyche thus causing the beginning of their end.

    • 1
      0

      “We saw it in Prabhakaran also called “Thalaiver”. “
      That is a little over the top.
      VP did not insist on any form of address.Many people have called him by many names, depending on their attitude towards the LTTE, which some satirically referred to as ‘the Company’. VP was called Perisu by some.

      • 0
        0

        SJ, Self-interest is very strong in all the above comments made about human behavior. That is how the Creator God made humans in his image to rule in his kingdom power to redeem the world which had been polluted with experiments of long bodied dinosaurs by the fallen Lucifer who was hence cast out of heaven and a flood destroyed the evil. God gave all the humans too the freedom to choose him and do his will and purpose and come into his family. But man too rejected God and did his own thing and fell into sin. Jehovah God gave a land near Eden to Abraham and his descendants through Sara and called it Israel which was given his law to the Jewish nation through whom he would send the sinless Jesus to save , heal and deliver and also showed the power of Resurrection of saints with him. to be contd.

        • 0
          0

          SJ 2, After the 4 gospels, the NT shows how Jesus taught his disciples to receive his power and spread his love and mercy to humans who will all be resurrected and judged. There is no chance of vanishing through nirvana. Sometimes judgment comes even while in this life like what happened to Gotha getting churches bombed and creating chaos to be prez Not only was the greedy robbing of nation by family, but murders took place. Judgment came fast with him running to escape in other countries. Jesus shows mercy only to those who repent as not to repeat their crimes. Many mistakenly believe he forgives all crime without justice. He taught in Luke 11 about his Father as well as Friend and Intercessor, and in Luke 18 as Judge. Cannot expel Israel for our Palestinian Embassy of a non existent land. Who can live next door to an enemy who wants to kill you. Beware.

        • 0
          0

          HE who created the self also created self-interest which arises from the desire to survive and be free of external control over one’s existence.
          in fairness, HE too acts out of self-interest, demanding worship and obedience, and of course bitter rivalry towards the fallen angel.

          • 0
            0

            SJ, I am just a human being who has no major self-interest or any animosity towards you or anyone else. It’s simply that I wish to see our Creator God obeyed so that great blessings come on persons as well as nation. Some can’t accept any sort of covering even for good. My best regards to you and my wishes for you to be blessed.

            • 0
              0

              What you are is not my concern. But it is nice to be assured that you are just a human being
              What you say here and what that implies are only what I can go by.
              Kindly stop trying to patronize people.

              • 0
                0

                SJ, please appreciate the difference in heart attitudes between genuine believers of the love, mercy and goodness of God and others with stiff non-relational thought patterns which are called patronizing people.

  • 2
    4

    “VP did not insist on any form of address.”

    VP didn’t stop them either.

    • 1
      0

      Hitler insisted.
      There lies the difference.
      BTW
      MK Gandhi did nothing to stop people from calling hm ‘Mahaatmaa’.
      Does it put him on par with VP (if not Adolf) by your logic?

      • 2
        0

        “Does it put him on par with VP (if not Adolf) by your logic?”

        Well it was the gang which “enforced” LTTE’s public relation cultist practices that was and to lesser extent is responsible for popularising “Methahu – Right Honourable” “Our Leader Prabaharan” “Pala Murugan” “…………….. and it was not the people who prefered to address the psychopath …… with affection, however some perverts had lots of affection for him.

  • 1
    5

    Asanga,
    Look at your name closely. There is a ‘goon’ permanently resident there.
    No wonder you walk clumsily.

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