Are we playing both sides - India and China?

They say Indian Prime Minister Narendra  Modi embarked on an official visit to Sri Lanka as the Chief Guest of the International  Vesak Celebration - and nothing more and nothing less. He came, he conquered the minds of the Sri Lankans and he went back, leaving fond memories for some individuals - and perhaps for himself.

When he declared India’s commitment to Sri Lanka’s economic prosperity, he also stressed that whether on land or water of the Indian Ocean, the security of India and Sri Lanka was indivisible. He explained, explicitly, India’s intention as well as sending a sort of a warning signal to the other force which is trying to take the upper hand in the Indian Ocean environs.

Immediately after the India’s religious or political or sympathetic foray into Sri Lankan territory, our liberal and utopian leaders  without a moment of delay embarked on a journey to China to participate in the “Belt and Road" summit organized by Beijing and boycotted by New Delhi.

These dual encounters give rise to several questions. Is Sri Lanka trying to appease the minds of the Chinese rulers for getting down their arch rival Indian PM to our shores? Is Sri Lanka trying to play India against China and vice versa? Or else are we playing both sides and trying to hoodwink both?

There may be umpteen questions like this but the truth remains that despite the massive power struggle seen in the international political arena, we have to be extra friendly with both these Asian power houses as we are in a pathetic situation where the economy is concerned.

When perusing the supremacy struggle between these two Asian giants, who have been at each others throats for several, decades, the question arises as to whether its advisable to trust the motives of these two economic and military forces  to help us. Are they really interested in helping us out of sheer sympathy and also due to the long lasting friendly ties, or are they are trying help themselves by exploiting the chaotic situation in Sri Lanka to their advantage?  Or is it the continuation of their long standing battle between each other?

By investing in Sri Lanka both of them will have a firm foothold in the island. It may be in Trincomalee and surrounding areas and in Hambantota and the environs there and they firmly believe that with the power they posses and due to the poor economic situation found here, Sri Lankans would cave in without any protest, as we did in 1815 when our chieftains virtually invited the invading British to takeover the Kandyan Kingdom

Is History repeating itself?

As both these countries have experienced varying degrees of friendship and animosity from the SriLankan people and their rulers from time to time, will they be complacent about the friendship mask we are wearing at present? Or will they too wear a “friendship mask” and take the fullest advantage of our appeal to save our country and launch a subtle operation? If that kind of situation occurs—Indians starting the economic invasion from the North and their counterparts starting their economic expansion from the South—the end result will be the establishment of an economic dividing line in the middle of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka will be in two pieces, as happened in Germany, Korea, Cyprus, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia etc, and it will enable the power blocs in the United Nations to add another country to their supporter list. Or it may even be the bone of contention to start another world war—ideologically divided nations joining either India or China!

How will all these developments help Sri Lanka? As anticipated by the liberal and utopian economic wizards in the present ruling regime will Sri Lanka achieve prosperity or will it end up as a “piece full” nation?  

 

By Vijaya Ariyarathne

 

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