4 March, 2024

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Northern Tamils Are Not For Sale To China

By P. Soma Palan

P. Soma Palan

I refer to the Article under the heading “Can China win over the Northern Tamils” by M.S.M.  Ayub in the Daily Mirror of 18th November 2023. My response to his query is an affirmative “No”. I say this not as a northern Tamil, but as an independent, free and objective thinker. In today’s International politics, the phrase “Geo-politics” is a commonplace expression. It means an inter-play of power and spheres of influence between militarized Nations. Geo-politics has been accepted by all countries as an axiom that rules and dominate international relations. But, in my view, Geopolitics is a dirty word, an obnoxious anathema in International politics, which has divided the world into two or more formations based on the power of the gun. One formation countervailing the other to maintain a precarious balance of terror between the military might of the Eastern block of Super-powers, Russia and China, poised with Western block of U.S.A and Europe. Small and militarily powerless countries are caught between the two explosive formations. A slight spark could ignite and reduce the whole world into rubble.

The China’s forays into the Northern Sri Lankan Tamils is part of this geo-politics game to counter the sub-continental power India, with whom it had border wars in the Himalayan region. Thus, China’s Belt and Road Initiative to gain strategic footholds in the Indian Ocean is an open secret. China is making concentrated efforts to gain access to India’s southern front. This is demonstrated manifestly in its massive Investment loans to Sri Lanka and Projects like Hambantota Port and Colombo Port City etc.

The recent diplomatic overtures  to woo the Northern Tamils by offering relief aid of 500 Dry Rations parcels to needy families, worth Rs. 7500/- each can be considered more a bribe than an act of altruism. It amounts to trading, food in return for some space in the northern region to China. But, the Northern Tamils are more astute and has an ingrained conservatism and cannot be hoodwinked by free goodies of China. So, the Northern Tamils are not for sale and cannot be “won over” by China. Moreover, Northern Tamils and China are two worlds apart. Besides, there is not an iota of an element that connects Northern Tamils and China. On the contrary, the Northern Tamils have an inseparable binding with their ancestral forebears of Southern India, biologically, ethnically, linguistically, and culturally. These links with India cannot be broken and bartered away for free material aid or financial inducements; On the other hand, there is only a marginal connection between China and the majority Sinhala Buddhists of the South West Sri Lanka.

The only common factor that connects Sri Lanka to China is Buddhism. But then, China is Buddhist only in name. Even if China can be labeled as a Buddhist country, it is not Theravada Buddhism but Mahayana Buddhism. Moreover, China’s religion is Communism and not Buddhism. The latest report is that China has proposed to build the largest Statue of the Buddha in Sri Lanka to cater to latter’s Buddhist emotion and sentiments and buy its allegiance to China. A symbol of ties between Sri Lanka and China- vide DM report of 21/11/2023.  In the final analysis, Buddhism originated in India, and both Sri Lanka and China are mere recipients of Buddhism. The aforesaid multiple factors binds Sri Lanka organically more to India than to China.

However, there is one common political factor that draws China and Sri Lanka to each other. That is, Sri Lanka’s imaginary apprehension about its close neighbor India, and China and India rivalry in the Himalayan border, which escalated into two wars between them. Therefore, China is seeking access to India’s southern front, while Sri Lanka is seeking China as a bulwark against India .Chinese Diplomat in Sri Lanka proclaimed that China is a “protector of Sri Lanka’s Independence, Sovereignty and territorial Integrity”. Therefore, China is asserting tangible presence in the Indian Ocean to protect itself and Sri Lanka. Hence the common needs of China and Sri Lanka, makes the latter to tilt towards China in its foreign policy, which is detrimental to Sri Lanka. This makes China and Sri Lanka strange bedfellows.

Logistically, India is our next door neighbor. Reliance on our neighbor is far greater than reliance on a distant China, thousands of miles away. Moreover, Sri Lanka has greater affinity to India than China. Besides, India has since antiquity never coveted or conquered others’ territories. On the contrary, India has only ceded territories to others. India was larger than what it is today. For example Afghanistan, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh were part of India. India was and is absolutely a country of peace. It was other marauders, the Mongols, Persians, Moghuls, the Portuguese and the British that brought War into India. India’s culture is strongly and irrevocably embedded in its Sanatana Dharma since several millennia, and not in militarism. China winning over the Northern Tamils will be a pipe dream, while China winning over the Southern Sinhalese would be a disaster. Already the economic disaster had manifested by China’s overloaded Project Loans with corruption attached that brought the country to financial bankruptcy. The disaster of Geopolitics is a pending one, in the short or long term, when Sri Lanka would get caught up with embroilment in Big Power confrontation in the Indian Ocean ruining the whole country, including the Northern Tamils.  

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Latest comments

  • 3
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    When you live in a Third World country, particularly in a bankrupt one, you are for sale to anyone – the US, India, China, Somalia, whoever. So don’t sound self-important and arrogant.

    Such people are the first to eagerly stretch out their hands when money is flashed around.

    • 5
      8

      Sonali
      Tamil nationalism has some peculiar streaks.
      It is predominantly anti-left. The anti-Soviet (now anti-Russia) and anti-China attitudes are a direct consequence and persist even after neither is really socialist.
      There is a strong colonial loyalty and bonding with English speaking states in the Global North. They still count on the UK which is now not even a third rate world power. They have loyalty to the US and India, despite negative experiences over the past half century.
      The main Tamil dailies are on a ceaseless anti-China campaign. You will
      BTW, they love Israel. So the Tamil media play down the gross terror in Gaza.
      You need not go far to check, as there is plenty around here.

      • 6
        1

        “They have loyalty to the US and India, despite negative experiences over the past half century.”

        What sort experiences Tamils (and Sinhalese too) have had in the past 50 years?
        When youth were mercilessly killed and burnt on tyre pyre Chinese were supplying arms and ammunitions to Sri Lanka. During the last 30 years China …..

        Please go find out for yourself.
        Just because you hate Hindia it does not mean everyone else should celebrate China.

        • 1
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          SL owes much more to its historic friend (of 2500 years). Reasonable citizens would agree that it is hard to repay China for its contributions to make SL stronger and stable socially and economically.

          Apart from above, China unconditionally protected SL at international forums along with USSR (Russia) especially during the 30 year war against terrorism.

          • 1
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            ” China unconditionally protected SL at international forums along with USSR (Russia) especially during the 30 year war against terrorism.”
            Is not that also the claim of the US and India?
            If it is a crime in one’s eyes, only China is singled out.
            *
            China’s role was passive unlike that of the US and India which among other forms of assistance provided strategic data to sink LTTE supply vessels.
            Indian support was so valuable that the JVP was full of praise in the years 2001-2002. (This followed India successfully warning the LTTE against attacking the SL military base in KKS in May 2000.)

  • 4
    0

    “On the contrary, the northern Tamils have an inseparable binding…………………………………………….” Yes but what purpose did it serve? does it serve? or will it serve? India as a whole and southern Karunanidhi as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu’s inaction during the war was responsible for the massacre of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Today India has given a massive loan to Sri Lanka, not for summa. They expect to get something in return. Once they get what they want how can they go against the Sinhala Government? Their future prospects too will be in Jeopardy. From there on words they will be asking for more and more. Already Sitha Raman is encouraging the Indian Fishermen to fish in Troubled Waters by forcing Sri Lanka to release the arrested Indian fishermen. They just don’t care for the Tamil Fishermen or the Tamils as a whole who are being hooked by Mody. If India supported the Tamils during the war the need to fear China would not arise. Our Tamil MPs too are fighting among themselves to fall prey to India except perhaps the Tamil Congress?

  • 4
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    “Northern Tamils Are Not For Sale To China”
    Interesting. Anybody but China, perhaps!

    • 8
      1

      “Interesting. Anybody but China, perhaps!”

      Certainly.
      Why the hell anyone with an iota of gray matter would sell Northern Tamils to China?
      What has China contributed to Northern Tamils or any other Tamils since 1957?
      China now claims Sri Lanka as its friendly neighbour.

      Mao’s ***** carriers believe China is the protector of Tamil and Sinhala speaking people from rest of the world.

  • 9
    1

    It is true that Geo-politics play a key role in this island which consists of two or more nations. Recent direct visit by Indian Government Finance minister and granting money to develop Buddhism and Buddhist institutions is to buy Buddhist Sinhala. Similarly, direct payment of food parcels to Jaffna Tamils by China is to buy Tamils. However, if a Tamil diaspora wants to directly to donate money is not acceptable to Sinhalese governments. This clearly shows there are three governments in this island and it is these countries are free to decide what they have to do. The third Sri Lankan government also not accountable to Sri Lankan people. North Eastern Tamils are victims of these three governments based on Violent Buddhism. All these three countries practice violent Buddhism, not Buddhism.

    • 3
      1

      Get a few things straight:
      The TNA, on Indian instigation, had blocked Chinese housing assistance to the North.
      The TNA even challenged the Chinese against setting foot in the North.
      A lawfully awarded contract to develop renewable energy in the north was ditch under joint pressure from the TNA and India.
      You should know who bought and sold Tamil militants between 1978 and 1987.
      The TNA even objected to archaeological studies of China-Jaffna peninsula relations.
      If Tamils can be bought over by food parcels, what is there for the masters of TNA to worry? They have even air dropped food parcels.
      *
      The real issue is:
      The Chinese are offering livelihood to a section of the population whose livelihood has been wrecked for over two decades by Indian poachers backed by the state.
      Solve that issue and China will have nothing to hold on to.
      Why will India not do it?

  • 4
    4

    “India was and is absolutely a country of peace. It was other marauders, the Mongols, Persians, Moghuls, the Portuguese and the British that brought War into India. India’s culture is strongly and irrevocably embedded in its Sanatana Dharma “
    It seems to me that Soma Palan picks up after Sivathasan and his Padayathra.
    But Palan the devout Hindu should read up on the battle of Kurukshetra at the very beginning of the Mahabharata. South Asians didn’t need encouragement from Mongols, Mughals, or Brits to kill and betray each other.

    • 6
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      old codger

      ” South Asians didn’t need encouragement from Mongols, Mughals, or Brits to kill and betray each other.”

      Soma Palan must be kidding.
      Can we remind him the wars that were fought among the Tamil Kings of South India. Sera, Chola, Pandiyas, …. were fighting peacefully among themselves. Is he saying Cholas and Pandiyas never invaded this island, and eastern countries, …. and part of North India, …..?

    • 5
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      oc
      There were two highly respected and well informed leaders of India: Ambedkar and Periyaar.
      They had interesting views on Sanatana Dharma.
      I do not think that even Nehru was impressed by it.

  • 1
    2

    beggars cant be choosers . and they also cant beg from other beggars.

  • 1
    3

    The more China gets involved in the affairs of Jaffna ,India will set foot on the plains of Jaffna………..

    • 0
      1

      That will be fun!

    • 0
      1

      Wishful thinking.

      • 0
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        KV
        FUN– wishful thinking?
        Certainly not!

  • 0
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    “Northern Tamils Are Not For Sale To China”

    but the chinese are traders for thousands of years.It is a part and parcel of their dna.Let the bidding begin.First of all the 4 p’s of marketing.Product,Price,Promotion,Place.lets get that right first.

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