Posts tagged ‘Sri Lanka’


India seeks edge over China as Modi visits Sri Lanka | Reuters

When Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena received India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an ocean-front colonial building on Friday, the two looked out over a $1.4 billion Chinese real estate project halted days ago after criticism from New Delhi.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) talks to Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

The vista will have pleased Modi, whose government strongly opposed the land reclamation project inaugurated by China’s President Xi Jinping last year under a deal that gives China ownership of a patch of land overlooking a strategic port.

Modi’s was the first bilateral visit by an Indian premier in 28 years, a sign of a friendship that has warmed rapidly since a January election ousted a leader whose close ties with China had left Sri Lanka’s larger neighbour feeling unloved.

India and China are increasingly jostling for influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean and former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s decision to let Chinese submarines dock in Colombo port and the real estate deal were very worrying for New Delhi.

via India seeks edge over China as Modi visits Sri Lanka | Reuters.


Modi to ramp up help for Indian Ocean nations to counter China influence | Reuters

(Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi will offer island nations in the Indian Ocean a broad range of military and civilian assistance next week in a bid to wrest back some of the influence China has gained by spending billions of dollars in the region.

Sri Lanka's President Mithripala Sirisena (C) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) as his wife Jayanthi Sirisena looks on during Sirisena's ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi February 16, 2015. Sirisena is on a four-day state visit to India. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Modi will make the pledges during a visit to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles after decades of neglect by successive Indian governments. His trip to Sri Lanka will be the first in 28 years by an Indian prime minister.

China has built seaports, power plants and highways across the small island nations. Its navy has also made forays into the Indian Ocean, including when submarines docked last year in Sri Lanka, rattling New Delhi, which has an uneasy relationship with Beijing.

New Delhi is hoping to tie the islands into a closer security embrace, Indian officials said.

“India has a role as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region,” said a defence official involved in preparations for Modi’s trip, which begins on March 10. “We are providing patrol ships, surveillance radars and ocean mapping for the island states.”

At the top of Modi’s agenda is Sri Lanka, the tear-shaped island off the southern coast of India where a new government, concerned at Beijing’s growing influence, is reviewing infrastructure contracts the previous administration awarded to China. It has also ruled out additional Chinese submarine visits in the near future.

Modi is expected to tighten defence and security cooperation and push for final approval for a 500 MW power plant to be built by India’s state-run National Thermal Power Corporation under a 2012 agreement in Trincomalee, a strategic port in eastern Sri Lanka, Indian officials said.

The two sides were also in talks to upgrade military training, a Sri Lankan government official said.

via Modi to ramp up help for Indian Ocean nations to counter China influence | Reuters.


Sri Lankan doubts on loans, submarines seen as rebuff to Beijing | Reuters

If last week’s visit to Beijing by Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was meant to allay fears that the island nation’s new government was distancing itself from China, it failed.

China's Premier Li Keqiang (R) speaks with Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera during their meeting at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing, February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Wu Hong/Pool

If anything, Samaraweera’s comments on the prospect of Chinese submarines using Sri Lanka as a stopover on long-distance westward missions and of bankrolling it through big loans underlined Colombo’s hardening position, experts said.

That would be welcomed by India, which, as Sri Lanka’s neighbour and traditional protector, had grown alarmed at its lurch towards China under the leadership of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, ousted in a shock election defeat in January.

“Some people say the (Sri Lankan) government had put too many eggs in the China basket,” said Sinderpal Singh, an India expert at the National University of Singapore.

“It’s a symbol to say ‘we would like to recalibrate our policy to one equidistant between India and China’.”

During his trip, Samaraweera said he did not envisage any more visits by Chinese submarines in the near future.

India voiced concern in November when Rajapaksa’s government allowed a Chinese submarine and warship to dock in Colombo, seven weeks after another submarine called at the same port.

One of the submarine dockings coincided with a state visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, himself wary of China’s increasingly assertive projection of naval power.

“…We will ensure that such incidents, from whatever quarters, do not happen during our tenure,” Samaraweera said of the potential diplomatic embarrassment.

Samaraweera made the remarks to the press and did not discuss warships or submarines during talks with Chinese officials, according to a member of the Sri Lankan delegation.

And while his comments do not preclude the future use of Sri Lankan facilities by Chinese submarines, they pointed to greater caution both in economic and military relations.

via Sri Lankan doubts on loans, submarines seen as rebuff to Beijing | Reuters.


Sri Lanka reviews land transfer to China as port deal draws scrutiny | Reuters

Sri Lanka is reconsidering the outright transfer of a parcel of land to China under a $1.5 billion port city deal signed by a previous government, the energy minister said, amid concerns it could be used for Chinese naval activity.

China’s port and other infrastructure investments in Sri Lanka are under the scanner ever since former president Mahinda Rajapaksa lost power in an election last month. He had pursued close ties with Beijing, drawing neighboring India’s ire.

Under the plan, 108 hectares of land next to the main commercial port of Colombo would be taken over by China Communications Construction Co Ltd, including 20 hectares on an outright basis and the rest on a 99-year lease.

The development would include shopping malls, water sports, golf, hotels, apartments and marinas.

“There is a new suggestion not to give freehold land and that land should be controlled and subjected to the Sri Lankan law,” Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka told a Foreign Correspondents Association Forum.

India, which lost out to China in infrastructure development on the Indian Ocean island, was in particular worried about the security threat posed by Chinese ownership of land, aggravated by the docking of submarines in Colombo last year.

via Sri Lanka reviews land transfer to China as port deal draws scrutiny | Reuters.


India seals nuclear energy pact with Sri Lanka, hopes to push back Chinese influence | Reuters

India sealed a nuclear energy agreement with Sri Lanka on Monday, its first breakthrough with the new government of the tiny Indian Ocean island where China has been building ports and highways in a diplomatic push in recent years.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) gestures to Sri Lanka's President Mithripala Sirisena's wife Jayanthi Sirisena (2nd L) as India's President Pranab Mukherjee (L) looks on during Sirisena's ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi February 16, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Under the deal, India will help Sri Lanka build its nuclear energy infrastructure, including training of personnel, the Indian foreign ministry said.

Later, India could also sell light small-scale nuclear reactors to Sri Lanka which wants to establish 600 MW of nuclear capacity by 2030, a Sri Lankan official and an Indian analyst said.

The deal came as Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena began a visit to India, his first trip abroad since he swept to power in January, which has provided New Delhi with an opening to repair ties that had become tense under his predecessor.

“The bilateral agreement on civil nuclear cooperation is yet another demonstration of our mutual trust,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement.

India had grown increasingly wary of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s pursuit of closer ties with China, which became a key supporter of the island’s economy after its 26-year-civil war ended in 2009.

China has built a seaport in the south of the country and signed a deal to develop a $1.5 billion port next to the commercial port in Colombo, raising fears Beijing is seeking influence in the island state with which New Delhi has had historical ties.

Ties worsened further after the Rajapaksa government allowed Chinese submarines to dock last year.

Modi said the two countries also agreed to expand defense cooperation, but gave no details. “This is my first visit and it has given very fruitful results,” Sirisena said.

Since coming to power last year, Modi has reached out to neighbors, offering to build power stations and ports, in a bid to push back against China.

Next month he plans to travel to Sri Lanka and the Maldives where too Beijing is seen to be expanding its diplomacy as part of a strategy to build a network of ports in the Indian Ocean through which much of its trade and energy supplies transit.

Sirisena has pledged to pursue a more global foreign policy.

via India seals nuclear energy pact with Sri Lanka, hopes to push back Chinese influence | Reuters.


Sri Lanka’s President Loses an Election—and China Loses an Ally – Businessweek

China has spared no effort to make friends with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The island nation has more than $4 billion worth of Chinese-backed investments, including a $1.4 billion project now under construction of offices, hotels, apartment buildings, and shopping centers on reclaimed land in Colombo that is the largest foreign investment in the country’s history. The leading provider of loans to Sri Lanka, China is also financing a $1.3 coal power plant and $1 billion highway.

Supporters of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on January 8, 2015 in Colombo, Sri Lanka

For Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited in September, cozying up to Rajapaksa has been a twofer. Building a Chinese presence in the country helps further Xi’s ambitions to build a “maritime Silk Road” expanding China’s reach in the Indian Ocean.

At the same time, China’s expansion in the Indian Ocean country has provided a useful way to irritate Sri Lanka’s big neighbor and China’s regional rival: India. China and India have a longstanding border dispute, and China has been eager to take down India a notch by focusing on Sri Lanka and other small countries that have traditionally been in India’s sphere of influence. India, for instance, was displeased last year when two Chinese submarines docked at a Chinese-funded port terminal in Colombo.

via Sri Lanka’s President Loses an Election—and China Loses an Ally – Businessweek.


Chinese company undertakes largest water supply project in Sri Lanka – Xinhua |

China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) has kicked off a 230-million-U.S. dollar water supply project, which is the largest ever undertaken by the Sri Lankan government, an official said Saturday.

The inaugural pipe laying was done by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa in the town of Mahara, about 19.6 km from capital Colombo.

The project, once completed, will provide clean drinking water to about 600,000 people in 42 villages scattered around the region.

An estimated 20 million U.S. dollars is also provided by the Sri Lankan government who will work with CMEC to implement the venture.

“We are doing this for the community. It’s a very important project and we are grateful for the Chinese government for supporting us in this. This is something that has great social worth,” Rajapaksa told the gathering at the inauguration ceremony.

In the next three years, CMEC will build a water treatment plant with a supply capacity of 54,000 cubic meters a day and a new water intake volume of 85,000 cubic meters per day.

CMEC has unanimously agreed to commence the water project earlier than usual, Rajapaksa added, praising the swiftness with which the work was taking place on the ground.

The topographic survey and soil investigation of the water treatment plant was completed in June and site clearing for the plant was also wrapped up in November, leaving CMEC to begin laying over 1,000 km of water pipes.

Rajapaksa also expressed confidence that the efforts of CMEC together with the National Water Supply and Drainage Board will result in the successful completion of the project.

CMEC has been working in Sri Lanka for nearly a decade on a variety of projects. Its largest venture is the Lakvijaya coal power plant that was built with assistance from the Chinese government at a cost of 1.2 billion U.S. dollars.

via Chinese company undertakes largest water supply project in Sri Lanka – Xinhua |


Study: Happiness, Money Matter Most to Indians – India Real Time – WSJ

Happiness matters most to the average Indian. At the same time, the average Indian care more about their pay than most do in South Asia. In fact, Indians care more about their paycheck than people in the U.S. or Europe.

Those findings, recently released by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, was based on a survey of more than 60,000 people about their quality of life. Respondents were asked to rank 11 categories – from income and job satisfaction to personal health and safety – in order of what mattered most to them.

Life satisfaction, or happiness, OECD found, was most important to people world-over. More than 75% of those surveyed reported more positive experiences in a day over negative experiences. Respondents from Iceland, Japan and New Zealand felt the most positive, while those in Greece and Turkey showed the lowest levels of happiness.

Personal health was second-most important concern. China, Canada, France and Australia were among countries that ranked personal health as most important to them, even over happiness, safety and a stable income.

World-over, civic engagement, or greater participation in public policies, occupied a lowly position in rankings. Fewer than two-fifths of those surveyed said they trusted their national governments — but also said fixing the state of affairs in their country wasn’t a priority.

The world’s biggest-ever election is underway in India, for instance, yet the nearly 600 Indians OCED surveyed, ranked civic engagement, or greater participation in public policies, as least-important to them.

India’s South Asian neighbors — China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – were no different. Civic engagement was least-important to people across the four countries. Respondents in each of these countries differed about what mattered most to them.

While Indians and Chinese picked happiness and health care, respectively, respondents from Pakistan named safety as their top concern. Education mattered the most to people in Sri Lanka.

via Study: Happiness, Money Matter Most to Indians – India Real Time – WSJ.

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Sri Lanka teams up with Chinese firm for $1.4 billion port city

Reuters: “Sri Lanka has finalized a $1.43 billion deal with China Communications Construction Co Ltd (601800.SS) to build a city on a 230 hectare site that will be reclaimed from the sea, the head of the state-run Ports Authority said on Wednesday.

A general view of the Colombo South Harbor at Colombo Port July 24, 2013. REUTERS-Dinuka Liyanawatte

The site is next to the island nation’s main Colombo port and Colombo‘s historic Galle Face Green seafront. It is also close to where Shangri-La Hotels Lanka Ltd, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Shangri-La Asia Ltd (0069.HK), is building a 500-room hotel.

“The Chinese firm will invest in reclaiming the land and infrastructure of the port city,” Priyath Wickrama, chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority, told reporters. “It will be given around 50 hectare of reclaimed land on a 99-year lease for its investment.”

The 39-month long construction project will start in September, Wickrama said, adding the city would include eco-parks, residential areas, offices and shopping malls.

Since the end of a nearly three-decade war in May 2009, the Indian Ocean island nation has been spending heavily on infrastructure, including ports to attract foreign investments to its $59 billion economy.

It has already created new land near the proposed port city as part of its expansion of the Colombo port to double its capacity by 2015.”

via Sri Lanka teams up with Chinese firm for $1.4 billion port city | Reuters.


* China to lend $580 mln for Sri Lanka development projects

China is past-master at geopolitics. India is a novice.

Reuters: “China Development Bank Corporation will lend $580 million to Sri Lanka to help implement key infrastructure projects, a government document released on Wednesday showed.

English: Location map of Sri Lanka. Equirectan...

English: Location map of Sri Lanka. Equirectangular projection. Strechted by 101.0%. Geographic limits of the map: N: 10.2° N S: 5.5° N W: 79.2° E E: 82.3° E Made with Natural Earth. Free vector and raster map data @ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The loan will bring CDB’s total lending to Sri Lanka to more than $1.4 billion. China’s increasing influence in the island nation has stoked concerns in neighbouring India.

According to the document, $300 million of the loan will be spent on developing roads and $200 million on water supply projects, with the rest going to the national business school.

It said CDB had already extended $652 million for road development projects and $214 million for an irrigation project.

The loan announcement comes ahead of a four-day official visit to China by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The $59 billion economy has increasingly relied on China for financing and technical expertise for reconstruction projects following the end of its long civil war in May 2009.

In March, China’s Export-Import Bank agreed a $278.2 million loan to finance a rail track to a port Beijing is building in Sri Lanka’s deep south of Hambantota.

China has loaned $1.5 billion for the port’s construction and $209 million for a nearby airport.

Similar port developments from Myanmar to Pakistan have raised Indian fears about Chinese political and military influence, but Rajapaksa has rejected such concerns, saying China’s presence in Sri Lanka is strictly business-related.”

via China to lend $580 mln for Sri Lanka development projects | Reuters.

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