29 January, 2022


The Rajapaksas Cannot Survive Without The Chinese Connection

By Tisaranee Gunasekara –

“Outside a doll, inside the plague”. – Greek Proverb

Mega is a classic despotic-obsession. The largest, the tallest and the longest are absolutely irresistible to the nastiest, the meanest and the deadliest. Neither economic logic nor common or garden reason has any say in these pageants of megalomania.
What the Rulers want they must have and damn the consequences. The fascination with the mega is an obsession the Rajapaksas share. They want to build, build and build – irrespective of whether the projects are economically viable or developmentally necessary and irrespective of Sri Lanka’s precarious financial conditions.
In this size-and-numbers game, even the quality of the projects is of no moment.
This obsession has a bearing on the current Lankan foreign policy, on par with other Rajapaksa characteristics such as limitless power-hunger and antipathy towards devolution.
The Rajapaksas need a strategic ally who will enable them to fulfil their manic-aspirations, be it dotting the country with ports and airports or sending a First Son to space.
They need an international Godfather who pays as little heed to public welfare and economic rules as the Rajapaksas themselves, empathises with the Siblings’ mega-obsession and has the money to fund it.
They need a patron who is blasé about their project of Familial rule and Dynastic succession and is immune to pressure from any human rights lobby or the Tamil Diaspora.
They need a powerful protector-nation which wants to bankroll them for its own geo-strategic reasons. There is only one country in the world which fulfils all these criteria. And that country is China.
Like other emerging superpowers in their time, China wants to create a rampart of client-states which will act as political and economic shock-absorbers in times of need. Once upon a time and even not so long ago, this secondary frontier was created with the use of naked force; in today’s world a far more nuanced approach is necessary.
The Chinese method is an improvement on the American method of the Cold War period: cultivate and bankroll venal rulers and use their countries as proxies in power-contestations.
Beijing looks for autocratic rulers willing to sell their countries for a lifetime in power. The Rajapaksas need a wealthy, powerful international ‘Sugar Daddy’ immune to any sort of pressure and with less scruples than even the classic ‘Ugly Americans’. The two make a snug fit.
In an ultimate irony, the World Bank in a new report (China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious, and Creative High Income Society) has urged China to increase its social spending by 7%-8% of the GDP over the next 20 years and to tackle the problem of rampant inequality.
Unlike democratic nations which must pay heed to popular demands at least in election times, China can afford to have a regressive tax system and spend most of the resulting funds not on public welfare but on defence, including maintaining client states.
It thus has a natural financial advantage in dealing with the Rajapaksas, unavailable, for example, to India.
Plus as an imperfect and devolved democracy, India also needs to pay attention to the concerns of Indian Tamils and Tamil Nadu.
The ongoing row over the training of Lankan military personnel in India is emblematic of this reality.
Delhi wants to continue with the training programme while Chennai is dead set against it. Eventually Delhi may prevail, but the programme will remain a contentious issue.
While India struggles with such embarrassing conundrums, China is free to form any form of alliance with the Rajapaksas and to offer them any kind of assistance.
The Rajapaksas have embarked on a project of transforming North-Eastern demographics by creating new facts on the ground via organised and state-driven colonisation schemes (this is the total opposite of individual Sinhalese buying/leasing land in the North-East, as individual Tamils do in the South).
Since a sufficient number of ordinary Sinhalese will not agree to become pawns in this dangerous game, the Siblings have come up with the idea of permeating traditional Tamil habitats with military cantonments.
This state-driven project requires massive funds. The Chinese are to step into the financial-breach with a loan of US$ 100 million to “set up accommodation and infrastructure facilities to army camps in the north and east” (The Sunday Times – 26.8.2912). Military cantonments constitute Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s solution for the ethnic problem.
These cantonments will be as damaging to a lasting peace as the Israeli settlements are – but such concerns are immaterial to the Netanyahus, Avigdor Liebermans and the Rajapaksas of this world.

Toys made in China are plentiful, attractive and above all cheap; they are also of abysmally low quality and have a very short lifespan.

The quality issue is not limited to Chinese toys. Last month a US$ 300 million new bridge in Harbin collapsed – the sixth Chinese bridge to collapse since June 2011.
“Questions about materials used during the construction and whether the projects were properly engineered have been the subject of national debate ever since a high speed train plowed into the back of a stopped train on the same track on July 23rd last year… a subsequent investigation blamed in particular flaws in the design of the signalling equipment” (New York Times – 24.8.2012).
If this is the way the Chinese build in China, one can just imagine the quality of their constructs in other peoples’ countries. They ignore natural obstacles – a la the Hambantota-rock. They are not particularly concerned about the quality of the materials used – as the CEB Chairman has admitted vis-à-vis Norochcholai.
Plus they use convict-labour; men who are compelled to slave for unbelievably long hours, under abysmal working conditions, will not care whether their work lasts a century or a day.
Che Guevara once said that ‘Quality is respect for the people’. The obverse is also true; the absence of quality denotes a lack of respect, a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude towards the people. It happens when people are choiceless, as consumers and as citizens.
Those who are old enough would remember the soggy-match boxes and the kerosene-smelling cloth which symbolised local production in the 1970-77 Era. As we now know, Lankan manufacturers can make high quality products. But why should politically-mandated businessmen with a captive market make the necessary effort?
Being seen as a Chinese pawn can damage Sri Lanka at multiple levels.
For instance Lanka can become a proxy-battleground for the politico-economic contestations between China and India and perhaps even China and the US.
The US is set to station 60% of its naval fleet in the Asia-Pacific region and is reportedly considering deploying sea-borne anti-missile systems in East Asia. If – unfortunately for the world – Mitt Romney wins the US Presidency, the situation is likely to become even more fraught. Only suicidal-fools become embroiled in other countries’ wars.
The Rajapaksas cannot survive without the Chinese connection; but it is unlikely to prove beneficial to Sri Lanka, even from a developmental point-of-view. Chinese experts have reportedly informed the CEB that they do not know when the repairs to Norochcholai will be completed.
Power-stations which malfunction and bridges which collapse on a regular basis do not herald a development Shangri- la.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    The only way forward for Srilankans is to have a strong military and political alliance with the United States.A program of action must be implemented particularly in cultural fields to curb the prevailing anti-American sentiments within the Sinhalese Buddhists.There are other things too. Sinhalese Buddhists Although recent Libyan/Syrian experiences cannot be ruled out as viable strategy in Srilanka I think the Srilankan case has posed new challenges to the United States and the sections of Srilankan establishment who want strong US involvement in Srilanka (rightfully),as a staring point at least, to come up with novel and reactive ways to create conditions for such strong positive feelings about US within Srilanka in all aspects of life or ordinary people particularly masses of students, academics, farmers, working class, Buddhist clergy (as has been eloquently argued by Dr Kumar David). On the other hand Tamil Diaspora should not be disheartned by such a campiaign in Sti lanka. As it was evident from a recent Tamilnet article, they too have to “…..learn from the Kurds (as PKK plays in the Syrian situation) in being able to convert a crisis to our (oppressed Tamils) advantage”.http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=35517

    I think the future looks really bright for us Srilankans.

    • 0

      Which country in the world had been treated fair by the USA by being a friend to the USA ?

      Not even Europe.

      • 0

        No more Norichcholai Coal power plants, No more useless Chinese projects.. send the Chinese packing and the Indians who are delaying on building houses for the people in the northeast can go to hell too!

    • 0

      Good stuff Thisaranee – keep it up
      Next time anyone important from China comes to Lanka there should be a MEGA civil society protest to let the Chinese know that they are not welcome in Sri Lanka to support a brutal regime and the turning of lanka into another BURMA!

  • 0

    This is about one of the best articles on the potential dangers of Sri Lanka’s dependency on China. As has been rightly stated, the Rajapakses have an addiction to mega projects with very little interest in people friendly development efforts. Efforts to stem the rising cost of living receives hardly any meaningful attention. Predictions have been made of the possibility of an impending famine due to the decline in agricultural production in the country.

    One of the side effects of the recently concluded war has been the destruction of a large number of tree which is bound to have disastrous effects on the environment. There are hardly any plans to boost agriculture not only in the traditionally productive areas in the North Central Province, but also in the lands in the Northern and Eastern Provinces which have now come under the control of the government. China is not concerned with providing assistance to such ventures but their forte has been in the construction industry which provides more profits to Chinese construction companies and hardly any to the people of Sri Lanka. The sooner they realize the folly of depending on China the better it would be for the people of the country.

  • 0

    This is a game of wits. The Chinese and Indian Govts are masters at this. The Indians know some of their policy-makers have failed them in the recent past where they lost their own backyard to the Chinese – in a theatre they were the only influential foreign player. Besides, there is the warning of KM Panikkar decades ago India should not leave room for any neighbour to create conditions inimical to India’s defence and security interests. Whatever the sweet rhetoric that comes out India is bitter – and that is not good. Rajapakses know this, which is probably why MR personally gave the Fort TransWorks house $500 million mega-project to an Indian Company. We should be careful not to get caught in the struggle between giants in the region. If we are not careful, we can get crushed in the melee.


  • 0

    Sri Lanka is playing a difficult game of staying non-aligned to any power and that is what Sri Lanka should do.

    USA, China and India think only about their interests.

  • 0

    Its very unfortunate that Indian Rulerselite has turned into great pool of corrupted individuals right from its top and are easy preys to looming lobyists with unlimitted funds. From the time of Indian Foreign Secretary Romesh Bandari bribary has been the language of the SL dipolomacy. Hence, India lost itself from from the list of SL Favourites.
    Also the Tamils of South India is looming a night Mare in the minds of the Sinhala masses and the polity too had always been highly suspicious of India’s intentions. Even Srima though known as a great friend of Indira managed to grab the strategic islet Kachchativu.The idea behind thi move was have fortfication to bar Indian Tamils gaining grounds in the North Ceylon.
    Now once a useless barren islet is worth a thousand time with China at its heels startegically posing a potent threat to India. There is now no ‘u’ turn for SL and I totally aggree with the author that SL is in all likelihood soon be the next battle ground.
    In 2009 it was the turn of the Tamils to face the Mullivaikaal massacre. The next turn is ahead for the whole Nation particularly for the victorious Sinhalese to face a Mullivaikkal.
    Nobody can blame Prabakaran or the Tamils for what is in the offing.

  • 0

    It is possible on the pretext of building Army Camps, these buildings will be discreetly vacated/converted for occupation of Sinhala Voters from the South at a later stage, along with Land for cultivation. This may be the hidden agenda and that is why Devolution is on hold.

    India can go to hell. Why not use Chinese, who have not assisted the people of NE, to make the demographic change without costs?

  • 0

    Rajapakshe’s sugar daddy The Cinese.

    Tissaranee’s [Edited out]

    Yes.; We are aware Rajapakshes are ruining the Country & so is the Wickramasinghe & the main Opposition the UNP which is in an utter disarray & those Mangalayas & Gilmarts who are bankrupt Soo none are capable of upstaging the Rajapakshes.
    The citizen, helpless……………………..except the NGOs, their stooges …
    As helpless as us are the USA. They come to Pacific with their fleet is to warmonger or to exploit this region as they are bankrupt up to their EYE BALLS.

    A couple of days ago Angela Merkel after delievring a sermon to the Chinese in Beijing gleefully returned to germany with a Chinese order in hand worth billions of $$$$$ for Air Bus planes. ON HER DEPARTURE, THE CHINESE PRIME MINISTER POLITELY REMINDED HER THAT HE WAS VERY WORRIED AS CHINA HAS INVESTED BILLIONS IN EURO BONDS.r

    What do we do ?? [Edited out] don’t try to pull the wool over readers eyes with one sided stories. You are good to be sent to the race track with blinkers on.
    You are behaving like a mare.
    Inquire from your Basil A’do/AHRC in Hong Kong about the chinese constructions that take place there.
    Wonder whether the Iphone or iPads there smell of kerosene that you state as they are manufactured in your beloved China..
    You appear to suffer from a west orientated anti-lankan/chinese mania.
    Nilantha Illangamuwa under the auspicies of AHRC has been plagued by it. Also have attended kuppi panthi to improve english and cite quotation from litreture books wich he never imagined would even exists.
    The transformation into english of these ex-sinhala jurnos appear to be as speedy as the Chinese bullet trains.

    Rajapakshes and Tissaranees are in the meantime fidling in $$$$$$$$$$
    [Edited out]

    Part of this comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy

  • 0

    We have to be positive on approch of ongoing Govt.obtain mandaed by 2010- Election under the leadership of MR.That is how we elecated rulers since 1931,even under the colonial rulers of British Empire. Family nepoisim was had been play vital role of poiltics, since DS Senakayake took rain politics of power before Indepandeance and colonial Rulers encourage such fedul & medivial polities in Sri lankan last 70 odd ayeras.Conservative and Orthdox politics play against country democrtaic forces in for masses politics were in front by LSSP CP NLLS and other progressive forces.
    Foreing Imperialist who encourage Sri lankan bourgeisos carry family power politics to undermine democratic task led by Left forces.
    Politics have been dominated by Familas including Senanakayrs,Kotlawel Banadarakes, Jayawradans-Wickmasinhes-Wijewardnas( under planning), as well as ongoing Rajapaksas Fmilies.Since 1948 of 64 yeras our TINY ISLAND OF nation RULE AND RUIN BY MORIBUND POLITCS OF BOURGIOSIS.
    Needless to say under the leadership bourgeiosis task of Democrtaic revoluation is unfinished,incoampleted and endlees poverty expoliation and superssion of all ethanics races under the oppersed by state of Sri lankan bourgeiosis.You aggred or not this is short history of post-modern politics of Sri lankan.
    The same ruling bourgeiois class led, war against own people during 64 years. What Anarccahist cum terrorist did, in last several, thier so-called insurrcation,insurgentgies and armed struggle,
    re-esatblish,consilidated and strength power of Bourgeiosis State.This simple facts you have learn form lesson politics, if you interset to study history of politiacl power houses of the TINY Island OF SRI LANKA.
    I requst don’t messup with China developement with US hegemonoy politics in Globe ongoing profound changes end of Cold war politics.

  • 0

    The myopic hypocrisy of Western governments is forcing GOSL into alliance with the Evil Empire of the East. Hard to criticize GOSL when we really have left them no choice but to take Beijing’s money and assistance. This is a victory for the LTTE in its ongoing effort to destroy the country.

    • 0

      American Lanka , what sort of a patriot are you anyway? On one hand your “myopic hypocrisy West” is the cause why your regime has embraced the “Evil Empire of the East” and yet you fucking patriot appear with your MARA happy comments with an “American” shit piece in your name! This is the low and stupid level these fifty centers dollar scavenger party has descended to: their whole gibberish is a contradiction which is an exact replication of their paymaster regime. Then why the fucking hell do you love that “hypocritical West”? A fitting name for you would be “MARA-happy-fucker”!

  • 0

    Donkey Bird Brainer,

    Welcome to CT Tisaranee! We used to read your excellent articles in TC but now since we are unable to post any comments due to its comments off policy and therefore we are only seeing the writer’s point of view, it is very rarely we visit TC.

    This “Bird”-brainer fella must be suffering from a mixture of bird flu and Chikungunya! He is still haunted and obsessed by Ranil antipathy sickness. Rajapaksha’s government also with the extension of Chandrika era have ruled this country now for eons and therefore responsible for everything happening in the country, but this mud slinger has not yet got over his nasty habit of mudslinging. The sooner Sri Lanka jettison China better it would be for all, otherwise we ordinary citizens would have to pay the ultimate price and pain. Chinese are cheap urchins and 10 rupee prostitutes. Chinese produce hair bands and ornaments out of used condoms! That is the law level these baggers have plunged into. They add melamine to milk to fetch a good price for the unprocessed milk! That is the level of consumer respect they have. Chinese are a nation of scavengers which no respect whatsoever for human dignity and values. That is why they have adopted the worst policy a country could adopt even beating US: despite all the bad, blames and nastiness US has due to its exploitery foreign policy, they assumed some respect by requiring adherence to human right by all the countries-at least they said and pretend so! But see what this China whore has done! As Tisaranee has well articulated this promiscuous Chinese whore has no concern whatsoever on those values and adopted a policy of seeking to fulfill its own ambitions economic and strategic through the back door of the hell-promoting the evil, evil and despotic states responsible for untold crimes, corruptions, irregularities and human right violations! The epitome of the new hell-bound relationship with Chinese whore is contained in the yesterday’s adventure of a Chinese scavenger swallowing a diamond jewelry at an exhibition in the nanosecond of lapse of attention! When these mad-cows open their eyes after the ultimate realization they will be in Chinese scavengers stomach where I am afraid nothing can be done to escape but to perish to grave yard.

  • 0

    Paksa & Co should drive Chinese cars, infact all ‘patriots’ should

    Now dumb; dirty-partriots !!

  • 0

    duly bird

    ipads not cheap, Chinese labour, but Western management, quality control & market

    most of us, you, Chinese are West oriented,

    Everything the profitable sweatshop owners want is also Western

    In time western freedom/democracy too will replace the Western Marxist/communist dictatorship

  • 0

    Definitely, the Chinese prefer the westerner, the white man to us.
    He will never chose us over them, that is our confusion.
    Their relationship with the west is a bit different to ours.
    They know our weaknesses, cunning now, disregard when possible; Tibet.
    Their values are different, they call UK, the country they lost the opium Hon Kong lease; ‘the land of the brave’!!

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