China Asks India To Stay Off Sri Lanka

Describing Sri Lanka as India’s ‘Indian Ocean Colony’, China has asked its southern neighbour to stay off the island nation.
In recent past, the Asian giant claimed South China Sea as its own and asked America to stay off islands in the region. Now, China has taken the same stand on the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as it wants to capture the South Asian and the Southeast Asian markets.
With China trying hard to open yet another front to confront with India, New Delhi has slammed Beijing for taking such stand, saying that Beijing made a mistake by raising the geopolitical risk of investing in the region. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement last week, saying that it was not India, but China which started “colonialising” Sri Lanka in 2007 by providing military and diplomatic support to then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. According to India, President Rajapaksa crushed the Tamil Tigers (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE) with the help of Beijing.
The Indian ministry claimed that China also started implementing high profile construction projects and developing major Sri Lankan ports in order to increase its presence in the IOR. Beijing’s actual plan is to encircle India in its own backyard, added the statement.
The US, too, criticised China’s aggressive foreign policy, with Director of Asian Security Programmes and Kraemer Strategy Fellow Jeff M Smith saying: “China’s growing involvement in sensitive ports so close to India’s shores fed New Delhi’s long-standing concerns about Chinese encirclement.” According to the American foreign policy expert, although China has claimed that it has no plan to use the Sri Lankan ports for military purposes, it has sent submarines to the Chinese-operated South Container Terminal of Colombo Port on a number of occasions in recent times.
Smith stressed: “For India, the sudden appearance of a Chinese submarine in Sri Lanka was too much to bear. 70% of Colombo’s trans-shipment traffic comes from India and New Delhi has long been concerned over China’s efforts to expand its presence in the island nation.”
Soon after becoming prime minister of India in 2014, Narendra Modi reminded the top political leadership in Colombo that it was Sri Lanka’s duty to inform neighbouring countries about such port calls under the existing maritime pact. However, the same Chinese submarine surfaced again and again in Colombo, catching New Delhi by surprise.
Meanwhile, Smith has advised India to prepare a plan in order to contain China, saying that otherwise it would be difficult to ‘control’ the ‘aggressive nation’ in future.



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