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US -India tie-up to combat Sri Lanka’s ‘China card’

[DailyMirror, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 06:50 No Comment]

A few days ago , United States (US) State Secretary, Hillary Clinton declared that Sri Lanka (SL) ranks high on the Indian tour  agenda  , adding that she will be seeking to learn of the Indian stance pertaining to SL’s human rights violations, refugee problems and the peace initiatives. She  also announced that she will  have discussions with the Indian officials with a view to knowing what methods  and measures India can employ in regard to SL in this connection.

Ms. Clinton is  embarking  on this tour in the wake of America’s defeat at the United Nations  Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on its proposal against SL ‘s  civilian killings during the war. China and India standing together on this issue moved to defeat America and the Western countries, thereby leaving  America in the lurch. 

The US Ambassador to India , Tim Roamer stated , before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that India is engaged in a task worthy of credit  in regard to SL. He further added that America shall liaise with India in respect of SL’s human rights , refugee and peace initiative issues. Ms. Clinton is undertaking the Indian mission following his enunciations.

The Boston Globe , a popular American Newspaper in an article on Ms. Clinton’s Indian visit had  made a startling comment : ‘when it comes to regional issues , Clinton should make the case that expanding US – Indian relationship gives Indian leaders more strategic flexibility . They can stop  trying to match their Chinese counterpart backing regimes such  as those in Burma and Sri Lanka , that have committed gross human rights abuses against their own people…….’

Why SL is high on Ms. Clinton’s Indian tour agenda is explained by this comment. It is evident from this article that America is ready to support India to extricate SL from China’s clutches.. In other words, America is recognizing India as a potent power in the South  Asian region , and that,  if China is to jeopardize this , America  stands aligned with India .

SL began playing the ‘China card’ well in the realm of  Foreign diplomatic relations because it stood  to gain politically and economically. SL’s political gain : India got alarmed on the ‘China card’ and commenced dancing to SL’s tune. While making India uncomfortable, SL also took advantage of the Indo- China tangle to defeat the Western bloc  which turned antagonistic to the SL war. This was a great gain scored by  SL by playing the ‘China card’ well. Starting with the Hambantota harbour , the assistance lent by China to so many SL’s development projects , are the economic benefits bestowed on SL.

SL continuing to play the ‘China Card’ everywhere more often than not entailed more complications to America than India. America was baulked in its attempts to implement its policies against human rights violations around the world because of China’s obstructions. In SL too , this occurred. America must now be researching on a route  to intervene in SL’s human rights violations to bypass China’s impediments. One such route is the IMF loan . SL is unable to  play  the ‘China card’ as regards the IMF loan.

China , as a rule does not help a country without expecting a return; it is only when there is a benefit forthcoming to it , China takes the initiative to assist. This is true in regard to SL too. China’s assistance towards the construction of the Hambantota harbour is because it is beneficial and  of importance to it. China’s contributions to the other projects in SL are also aimed at guarding and reinforcing its interests relating to the Hambantota harbour. For, if China is to take advantage of the Hambantota harbour, it must intensify its presence extensively in SL.

The aid granted by China towards these projects are not funds out of its own Treasury .These are SL treasury funds collected  from the pockets of the Sri Lankans , as these are the proceeds of the sale of arms and weapons to SL at exorbitant prices. SL tops the list of the countries which contributed to China’s enrichment on arms deals, though it may be true that China supplied arms and weapons to SL to fight the war when other countries declined. China’s assistance is unforgettable from that standpoint.

Yet, China did not grant these arms and ammunitions free of charge. It is only  China’s Treasury which prospered . From that point of view , China helping SL to fight the war  does not spring a surprise .Out of the huge collection of proceeds from the sale of the arms to SL , only  a small fraction thereof is being disbursed by China towards SL’s development projects. Even there , it is helping with the Hambantota harbour  in furtherance of its ulterior motive. The colossal sums of money purportedly spent on the war by SL is more than enough to build a dozen harbours. China’s  spending for the construction of the Hambantota harbour too, may well be SL’s money. China is aware that SL’s war expenditure filled China’s Treasury and depleted SL’s Treasury eventuating in the present dismal economic impasse in the country. It is on this account that SL is compelled to seek the IMF loan .

America is still trying to carve out a secret route via India to intervene in SL ‘s human rights issues . India  which is fed up of SL’s chain ‘ card play’, can , on the other hand seize this opportunity to demonstrate its power using this route. Maybe, on Hillary Clinton’s Indian tour agenda , SL occupies the top rung  owing to these reasons. But, how long SL can play its ‘China card’ in the face of the new US -India tie-up is open to conjecture.

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