On May 20, the Sri Lankan parliament passed the Economic Commission Bill Port Colombo, which described the country’s legal framework that regulates China-funded projects built on reclaimed land from the Sri Seafront Layan, which side by side with the Port of Colombo. The bill effectively changed 660 hectares to become the Chinese Sovereign region.
But this shouldn’t be surprising. Shadow China seems to tower darker on Sri Lanka every time Rajapaksa Brothers-Mahinda and Gotabaya-win the election and power.
Mahinda Rajapaksa is currently the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. He was the President from 2005 to 2015, when Gotabaya served as Minister of Defense. Today, Gotabaya is the President; Rajawasas returned to power after the 2019 election.
The government of Rajakakas has previously enjoyed Chinese loans and projects. The most famous is an ambitious port built-in in Hambantota.
Although the feasibility study warned against it, the port was built by Chinese-owned companies with Chinese money. As expected, the port failed spectacularly. And Chinese people come to take their debt.
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This transparent debt trap policy has marked the belt and the Chinese world-girdling initiative. Lending state money to build infrastructure was built by Chinese companies, such as with prints that were not so good on contracts, took over infrastructure built after the country failed to pay its debt. Sri Lanka fell for it. Or, more likely, Rajawasas knows precisely what will happen and quite fine with it.
The New York Times report was published in June 2018 after an investigation for several months alleged that the Chinese had paid a large amount of Rajawasas to see the project.
NYT even included specific details about how China Harbor, a company that has built the port, has financed the brothers’ campaign during the 2015 parliamentary elections of the country, from cash to Sari for prospective supporters. Rajawaksas loses the poll, but the Chinese plan will succeed.
The new government struggles to serve debt taken by Rajapaksas. Balun payments up to almost 85% of income. In 2017, a poor Sri Lanka handed over Hambantota and 15,000 hectares of land closest to China on the 99-year lease modeled, ironically, in the 19th-century concession for Hong Kong extracted from China.
The port-taking has become a Chinese destination from the first day. Now has a strategic area of just a few hundred kilometers from India. The Chinese military submarine has reached Hambantota, an integral part of China’s ‘pearl string’ strategy to surround India. And with Colombo Port City, Beijing closer than before to Kanyakumari.
Meanwhile, China has also been active in other fields directly to India. A recent report in foreign policy magazines revealed that Beijing had built at least three villages in Bhutan, south of the Tibetan border.
The villages are served by more than 100 km of new roads, hydropower stations, two administrative centers of the Chinese Communist Party, signals and satellite communication bases, and military posts.
Villages are part of the project to build hundreds of settlements along the Tibetan border. The “army without uniform” population is advised to make “every village becomes a fortress and every household is noted”. Their main task is to keep the Chinese border and catch Tibetans try to escape to India or Nepal. The foreign policy sees Chinese movements shift from “biting in neighboring areas to swallow wholesale parts”. The message to Bhutan is clear: “Cut your bond with India, or …”
And on May 27, CGTN Media Countries China took articles by a Pakistani scholar who claimed that “the relationship between China-Nepal is higher than Mount Everest.
Elsewhere in the Himalayas, the deadlock on the de-escalation of the military at Ladakh continued. China seems to rely on outdated but practical guidebooks to drag non-stop negotiations.
At the same time, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) builds the road and permanent structure in disputed land and its soldiers at home. PLA seems to have settled for the long term along the Ladakh border.
India needs to realize that being nice and friendly to China doesn’t work. Beijing almost certainly interpreted Indian courtesy in India only as a weakness of determination. China is a civilization that operates with a strong sense of destiny of manifest.
Destiny, it believes, is Tianxia, ’all under heaven’ coexist harmoniously. Harmoni, however, means living with the rules that China and the son of heaven’s emperor – the role that Xi Jinping has thrown himself.
For three decades, China followed the policy ambition ‘Tao Guang Yang Hui’ Deng Xiaoping, hiding your claws. XI thinks that the time to maintain a low profile is passed, and China can pursue its hegemonic goals openly and shamelessly. The word ‘hegemony’ almost does not describe what China thinks is a legitimate place in the world – or more precisely, on it.
India no longer has a reason that China lied to us. Today, Beijing does not see the need to be sense or camouflage. Everything is out there before my eyes. India must shed Shibboleth into one family and act with self-interest that is not as much as possible..”