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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2614

China’s role vital for Sri Lanka’s security

By Janaka Perera

Writing in the Op-Ed page of the Daily Times (Islamabad) on May 22, on Pakistan’s war against the Taliban, Najmuddin A. Shah says:

"This is a war for Pakistan’s survival. It must be fought without illusions and without yielding to the temptation to believe that one has credible and willing partners with whom a negotiated peace could be worked out."

Needless to say Sri Lanka’s experience with the LTTE has been identical. It is in recognition of this that Pakistan felicitated the Sri Lankan Government on achieving a "great victory over terrorism". No doubt Islamabad will draw inspiration from Sri Lanka’s success though the background to terrorism in the two countries is vastly different. Pakistani troops have already made considerable gains in Swat valley.

In Russia, Moscow has largely succeeded in stabilizing Chechnya region after nearly two decades of fighting, despite the continuation of small scale and intermittent attacks by separatists.

However in Sri Lanka’s case it is amusing see that those international forces which turned a blind eye to Tiger Chief Prabhakaran intransigence and instead did everything possible to undermine the anti-LTTE military operations in the name of ‘human rights’ and ‘genocide’ are now in a mighty hurry to tell Sri Lankans how they should run their country in peace time. All of them and their local lackeys are impatient to see their own “solution” imposed on the country to deal with a problem the nature of which has changed over the past 26 years.

There have been two significant developments since the beginning of the Tamil insurgency.

The first was when the fighting broke out between Sri Lankan Forces and the LTTE in 1983, causing many Tamils to flee to India and the West. Most of them thought that the armed separatists whom they fondly called ‘boys’ were going to teach the so-called Sinhala State a lesson. The ‘boys’ (comprising the LTTE, EROS, PLOTE, EPRLF, TELO and EPDP) of course were baptized by India which wanted to use them for taming the Sri Lankan State. But it did not take long for a section of the boys to become ‘naughty’ and pass death sentence on the others – though some escaped.

Not surprisingly the next victims were their mentors – the ‘moderate’ Tamil leaders and Indian Peace Keepers and finally India’s Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi whose mother nurtured the monster. The ‘Sun God’ (whom the Tamils ‘seeking justice’ worshipped) had turned out be a Satan. But by the time realization dawned it was too late. Tamils had fallen from what they believed to be a frying pan into a raging fire. But for those like the Tamil National Alliance, Tamil Nadu jingoes and the pro-Tiger Tamil Diaspora who lived off the Tiger mafia it was manna from heaven. So they kept the pot boiling with the help of those Western politicians, governments and media whose names have today become synonymous with doublespeak.

They have still not given up stoking the fire. They are threatening Sri Lanka that if she fails to find what they think is a ‘just solution’ another Prabhakaran could emerge. Perhaps these hypocrites are hoping that the LTTE’s new Leader in exile, the wanted criminal K. Padmanathan alias K.P. would lead a fresh “liberation struggle” from exile like General Charles de Gaulle of France did in World War II!

Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka effectively responded to this rubbish in a media interview last week saying instead of demobilizing soldiers the Army’s strength would be increased during peacetime to be prepared for any eventuality even 10 years hence. The next step, he says, is to erase the ‘Tamil Eelam’ concept from Sri Lankan society.

Observes Nirmala Rajasingham (one time LTTE activist whose sister Rajini was killed by the Tigers) on the so-called Tamil liberation struggle:

"I think that whole phase is over and secession is out of the question and Tamils have to publicly disavow any connection they have with secessionist notions and win the confidence of the other communities. And that's what will be good for the Tamils for the future." (Interview with SBS)

In 1983 India was in the Soviet orbit while the then United National Party Government in Sri Lanka under President J.R. Jayewardene - also known as Yankee Dicky - was strongly titled towards the West. This was cited by political analysts as one reason for Delhi to interfere in the island’s crisis, apart from the Tamil Nadu factor.

The second development came with the end of the Cold War. After the fall of the Soviet Union India began to turn towards the West and today she has ended up serving American objectives in South Asia. The U.S. wants to see her powerful so that she can control the Indian Ocean from Persian Gulf to Malacca straits. Washington is also trying to minimize Russian influence in the South Asian region and has a strong hold on southern states of the ex-Soviet Union.

"…fast growing economic power of China coupled with her rising strategic relationship with the Third World has irked the eyes of the Americans and the Indians. Owing to this jealousy, support of the US to India for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and US-India nuclear agreement are part of the American desire to make India a major power to counterbalance China in Asia" (US vs. Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power)

These trends make Sri Lanka’s close relationship with China all the more important for Colombo. Beijing is building ports and naval facilities in friendly states including this country. Among them is the port of Hambantota, for an oil and container depot and also to support naval facilities. China has also set up a sophisticated electronic surveillance system in an Island in the Bay of Bengal to monitor sea traffic. With Pakistan, China has signed 11 agreements to enhance bilateral cooperation in diverse sectors including energy, telecommunications, trade, and space technology.

It is therefore imperative that Sri Lanka forge stronger ties with China, Russia and Iran - countries that have the will and clout to stand up to the West. It is noteworthy that during the last phase of Eelam War IV - Sri Lanka’s full scale offensive to crush the Tigers – India did not try to make it too difficult for the Rajapaksa regime although Delhi and off made irritating statements on the anti-LTTE operations during the recently concluded election campaign.

According to an article titled, "Sri Lanka – China’s Israel in the Indian Ocean," (Telegraph, UK May 7, 2009), the Chinese have found a vital ally in Sri Lanka. The Island will become an important point in future East-West struggles. The major mistake the Western World committed, says the writer, was to allow the "vicious" pro-Tiger Tamil Diaspora to infiltrate Western societies.

- Asian Tribune -

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