India need not worry about China City in Sri Lanka if it is only commercial: Minister
COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – India need not worry about a China City reclaimed out the sea in Sri Lanka if it is purely commercial and military activities are not allowed, Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka said, as more details emerge of a broader Chinese strategy to project power from artificial islands elsewhere.
"If the Colombo port and the port city is used as kind of military operation by the Chinese government then it will create serious problems in India and here in Sri Lanka as well," Ranawaka told Sri Lanka’s Foreign Correspondents’ Association.
"So we should confine these things to commercial purposes only."
Because Chinese military submarines had visited a Chinese-owned container terminal in Colombo Port last year there was a "serious suspicions" in India, he said.
"India should not get involved in commercial activities in Sri Lanka," he said. "But if there is a kind of military thing and eves dropping is happening, there will be a problem. But commercially it is Sri Lanka’s right (to reclaim the sea).
Minister Ranawaka said Sri Lanka should "learn from our history" as India’s Indira Ghandi administration had set about de-stabilizing Sri Lanka by arming and training the Tamil Tigers partly because it feared that a US naval base will be set up in Trincomalee, according to some claims.
Analysts say Sri Lanka’s post-independence nationalism also created a classic European style ‘irredenta’ out of the island’s Tami speaking population as the new leaders set about creating a linguistic nation-state just as East Europeans who got the popular vote did.
They trod a different path from a history of feudal rulers who were largely indifferent to language for millennia, and used tools inherited from Europe such as citizenship laws, birth certificates and legislatures to target sections of humanity who could no longer cross ‘ethnic’ barriers as easily as they had done in the past.
Ranawaka said there were concerns about plans in the deal to give freehold land to the Chinese state company.
There was also no law in Sri Lanka about reclaiming land.
He said the land has to be made a part of Sri Lanka and its law should extend to it.
Earlier Ranawaka has raised concerns whether China would claim economic rights to the sea after reclaiming the land.
China is already claiming ocean rights within 200 miles of Vietnam after occupying Vietnamese islands then controlled by South Vietnam. They are also settling people in the previously uninhabited islands.
Elsewhere in the South China sea, in disputed territory with other small nations like the Philippines, China is reclaiming the sea and building islands (China Building Dubai-Style Fake Islands in South China Sea) to cement its territorial claims (China to project power from artificial islands in South China Sea).
Satellite imagery of Chinese island building were made public by the web portal, The Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a US-based think tank earlier this month.
China has also used its veto power in the UN to silence protests by small nations over.
Meanwhile Ranawaka said there also environmental concerns as no environmental study had been done on the impact of the extraction of perhaps millions of tonnes of boulders from areas like Kaduwela.
The impact of the millions of tonnes of sand extracted from the sea bed was also not known, he said.
"Whatever we think about it China is the sole super power now as far the financial terms are concerned."
"We have to know that and accept this political and financial reality. They own 60 percent of the dollar reserves. We should not be a tributary state of China but we have to learn a lot from them."