Whilst China’s massive development loans to Sri Lanka are often portrayed as rescuing the Rajapakse administration from international economic pressure over human rights abuses, the details tell a different story. While China’s loans are an immediate de-facto handout for Chinese companies (which Sri Lanka is obliged through conditionalities to hire and purchase from), future Colombo governments will be left with the debts - at interest rates higher than other developmental lenders ask for. In short, Colombo is borrowing from China but pumping the money into the Chinese – not Sri Lankan – economy.
The Sri Lankan state’s debt dependent and public sector heavy economic strategy is crowding out private investment, lowering domestic savings and foreclosing a sustainable economy in the long term, business and economic analysts warned this week. The Central Bank’s growth projection were this week revised downwards by ratings agencies RAM Ratings and Standard & Poor’s who also warned that Sri Lanka’s long term growth depended crucially on cutting government spending. Meanwhile, fear is silencing critics of the government’s economic policies, one business leader protested this week.
China’s funding of Sri Lanka's Hambantota port development, and similar projects in other countries, has been interpreted by some Western and Indian analysts as part of a grand geostrategic design. The ‘ string of pearls ’ argument, first made by a few US military analysts, has not only become explanation for, but also ‘evidence’ of, China's supposed military ambitions in the Indian Ocean. This logic, while ignoring important related developments elsewhere, has also prevented serious consideration of alternative explanations. It cannot, for example, account for China investing seven billion dollars to develop three other ports in … Italy.
This Nataraja statute from the period of Raja Raja Chola (985-1014 CE) was part of a recent display of Chola bronzes at the Brihadisvara temple in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. The Chola dynasty lasted ten centuries (3rd-13th) and at its height ruled a vast empire that encompassed all of southern India and present day Sri lanka and whose sub-entities stretched far into South East Asia. Photo courtesy Frontline
US president Barak Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh displayed the new levels of amity between their two countries. Photo: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
In a brief but compelling interview with The Sunday Leader, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Executions, Philip Alston slammed a Sri Lanka government initiative, asserting the Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation will not focus or address human rights, humanitarian law, violations or war crimes.
As Britain goes to the polls on Thursday, a key issue for many British Tamil voters is UK policy on Sri Lanka and the Tamil question there. In this regard, the Tamil Guardian contacted the offices of several candidates last week seeking their views.
Engaging sections of vested interests in the diaspora to elude righteous causes of struggling people, in order to achieve imperialist goals in war and peace, is a long time strategy of powers. International foundations, firms and other such outfits are created from time to time for this purpose.
It is just over 10 weeks since we launched the Campaign. In that time, pressure on the Sri Lanka Government (GoSL) - from this Campaign and from many other directions - has helped to keep alive the issue of the Tamil internees (a more accurate phrase than "internally displaced persons").