செவ்வாய், 5 மே, 2009
Chinese threat to India: Time for USA and India to support Tamil Eelam
Times on line reports that;
“On the southern coast of Sri Lanka, ten miles from one of theworld’s busiest shipping routes, a vast construction site is engulfingthe once sleepy fishing town of Hambantota. This poor community of21,000 people is about as far as one can get on the island from thefighting between the army and the Tamil Tiger rebels on thenortheastern coast. The sudden spurt of construction helps, however,to explain why the army is poised to defeat the Tigers and why Westerngovernments are so powerless to negotiate a ceasefire to helpcivilians trapped on the front line.
This is where China is building a $1 billion port that it plans to useas a refueling and docking station for its navy, as it patrols theIndian Ocean and protects China’s supplies of Saudi oil. Ever sinceSri Lanka agreed to the plan, in March 2007, China has given it allthe aid, arms and diplomatic support it needs to defeat the Tigers,without worrying about the West. Even India, Sri Lanka’s long-timeally and the traditionally dominant power in South Asia, has founditself sidelined in the past two years — to its obvious irritation.“China is fishing in troubled waters,” Palaniappan Chidambaram,India’s Home Minister, warned last week.
The Chinese say that Hambantota is a purely commercial venture, butmany US and Indian military planners regard it as part of a “string ofpearls” strategy under which China is also building or upgrading portsat Gwadar in Pakistan, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Sittwe in Burma.
The strategy was outlined in a paper by Lieutenant-Colonel ChristopherJ. Pehrson, of the Pentagon’s Air Staff, in 2006, and again in areport by the US Joint Forces Command in November. “For China,Hambantota is a commercial venture, but it’s also an asset for futureuse in a very strategic location,” Major-General (Retd) DipankarBanerjee of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in Delhi said.
The British Navy used the Sri Lankan port of Trincomalee as its mainregional base until 1957 and still shares a naval base with the US onthe nearby island of Diego Garcia. China has no immediate plans for afully fledged naval base but wants a similar foothold in the IndianOcean to protect its oil supplies from piracy or blockade by a foreignpower, analysts say.
Beijing sent three ships on an unprecedented anti-piracy mission tothe Gulf of Aden in December, and in January a Chinese defence WhitePaper said that the navy was “developing capabilities of conductingco-operation in distant waters . . .
”China has cultivated ties with Sri Lanka for decades and became itsbiggest arms supplier in the 1990s, when India and Western governmentsrefused to sell weapons to Colombo for use in the civil war. Beijingappears to have increased arms sales significantly to Sri Lanka since2007, when the US suspended military aid over human rights issues.
Many of the arms have been bought through Lanka Logistics &Technologies, co-headed by Gotabhaya Rajapksa, the Defence Secretary,who is also the President’s brother.
In April 2007 Sri Lanka signed a classified $37.6 million (£25million) deal to buy Chinese ammunition and ordnance for its army andnavy, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly.
China gave Sri Lanka — apparently free of charge — six F7 jet fighterslast year, according to the Stockholm International Peace ResearchInstitute, after a daring raid by the Tigers’ air wing destroyed tenmilitary aircraft in 2007. One of the Chinese fighters shot down oneof the Tigers’ aircraft a year later.
“China’s arms sales have been the decisive factor in ending themilitary stalemate,” Brahma Chellaney, of the Centre for PolicyResearch in Delhi, said. “There seems to have been a deal linked toHambantota.
”Since 2007 China has encouraged Pakistan to sell weapons to Sri Lankaand to train Sri Lankan pilots to fly the Chinese fighters, accordingto Indian security sources.
China has also provided crucial diplomatic support in the UN SecurityCouncil, blocking efforts to put Sri Lanka on the agenda. It has alsoboosted financial aid to Sri Lanka, even as Western countries havereduced their contributions.
China’s aid to Sri Lanka jumped from a few million dollars in 2005 toalmost $1 billion last year, replacing Japan as the biggest foreigndonor. By comparison, the United States gave $7.4 million last yearand Britain just £1.25 million.
“That’s why Sri Lanka has been so dismissive of internationalcriticism,” said B. Raman of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. “Itknows it can rely on support from China.
”COMMUNISTS of INDIA, who split into CPI and CPM over the question ofwhich country to lean ideologically must realize that all their loudvoices in Tamilnadu in supportive of Eelam Tamil’s struggle will betreated as mere verbal gymnastics, unless these parties urge Russiaand China not to block UN Security council debates on Srilanka nor tostall UN intervention.