Monday, March 09, 2009

China fuels Sri Lankan war

China fuels Sri Lankan war

Sri Lanka, the once self-trumpeted "island of paradise," turned into the island of bloodshed more than a quarter-century ago. But even by its long, gory record, the bloodletting since last year is unprecedented. The United Nations estimates that some 1,200 noncombatants are getting killed each month in a civil war that continues to evoke a muted international response even as hundreds of thousands of minority Tamils have fled their homes or remain trapped behind the front line.

With the world preoccupied by pressing challenges, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, Defense Minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a naturalized U.S. citizen, press on with their brutal military campaign with impunity. The offensive bears a distinct family imprint, with another brother the president's top adviser.

Chinese military and financial support — as in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uzbekistan, North Korea, Burma and elsewhere — has directly aided government excesses and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. But with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly emphasizing that the global financial, climate and security crises are more pressing priorities for U.S. policy than China's human rights record, which by her own department's recent admission has "remained poor and worsened in some areas," Beijing has little reason to stop facilitating overseas what it practices at home — repression.

Still, the more China insists that it doesn't mix business with politics in its foreign relations, the more evidence it provides of cynically contributing to violence and repression in internally torn states. Sri Lanka is just the latest case demonstrating Beijing's blindness to the consequences of its aggressive pursuit of strategic interests.

No sooner had the United States ended direct military aid to Sri Lanka last year over its deteriorating human rights record than China blithely stepped in to fill the breach — a breach widened by India's hands-off approach toward Sri Lanka since a disastrous 1987-90 peacekeeping operation in that island-nation.

Beijing began selling larger quantities of arms, and dramatically boosted its aid fivefold in the past year to almost $1 billion to emerge as Sri Lanka's largest donor. Chinese Jian-7 fighter jets, antiaircraft guns, JY-11 3D air surveillance radars and other supplied weapons have played a central role in the Sri Lankan military successes against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (or "Tamil Tigers"), seeking to carve out an independent homeland for the ethnic Tamils in the island's north and east.

Beijing even got its ally Pakistan actively involved in Sri Lanka. With Chinese encouragement, Pakistan — despite its own faltering economy and rising Islamist challenge — has boosted its annual military assistance loans to Sri Lanka to nearly $100 million while supplying Chinese-origin small arms and training Sri Lankan air force personnel in precision guided attacks.

China has become an enabler of repression in a number of developing nations as it seeks to gain access to oil and mineral resources, to market its goods and to step up investment. Still officially a communist state, its support for brutal regimes is driven by capitalist considerations. But while exploiting commercial opportunities, it also tries to make strategic inroads. Little surprise thus that China's best friends are pariah or other states that abuse human rights.

Indeed, with its ability to provide political protection through its U.N. Security Council veto power, Beijing has signed tens of billions of dollars worth of energy and arms contracts in recent years with such problem states — from Burma and Iran to Sudan and Venezuela.

In the case of Sri Lanka, China has been particularly attracted by that country's vantage location in the center of the Indian Ocean — a crucial international passageway for trade and oil. Hambantota — the billion-dollar port Chinese engineers are now building on Sri Lanka's southeast — is the latest "pearl" in China's strategy to control vital sea-lanes of communication between the Indian and Pacific Oceans by assembling a "string of pearls" in the form of listening posts, special naval arrangements and access to ports.

China indeed has aggressively moved in recent years to build ports in the Indian Ocean rim, including in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma. Besides eyeing Pakistan's Chinese-built port-cum-naval base of Gwadar as a possible anchor for its navy, Beijing has sought naval and commercial links with the Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar. However, none of the port-building projects it has bagged in recent years can match the strategic value of Hambantota, which sits astride the great trade arteries.

China's generous military aid to Sri Lanka has tilted the military balance in favor of government forces, enabling them in recent months to unravel the de facto state the Tamil Tigers had run for years. After losing more than 5,594 square km of territory, the Tigers now are boxed into a 85-square-km sliver of wooded land in the northeast.

But despite the government's battlefield triumphs, Asia's longest civil war triggered by the bloody 1983 anti-Tamil riots is unlikely to end anytime soon. Not only is the government unable to define peace or outline a political solution to the Tamils' long-standing cultural and political grievances, the rebels are gearing up to return to their roots and become guerrilla fighters again after being routed in the conventional war.

While unable to buy peace, Chinese aid has helped weaken and scar civil society. Emboldened by the unstinted Chinese support, the government has set in motion the militarization of society and employed control of information as an instrument of war, illustrated by the muzzling of the media and murders of several independent-minded journalists. It has been frenetically swelling the ranks of the military by one-fifth a year through large-scale recruitment, even as it establishes village-level civilian militias, especially in conflict-hit areas.

With an ever-larger, Chinese-aided war machine, the conflict is set to grind on, making civil society the main loser. That is why international diplomatic intervention has become imperative. India, with its geostrategic advantage and trade and investment clout over a war-hemorrhagic Sri Lankan economy that is in search of an international bailout package, must use its leverage deftly to promote political and ethnic reconciliation rooted in federalism and genuine interethnic equality. More broadly, the U.S., European Union, Japan and other important players need to exert leverage to stop the Rajapaksa brothers from rebuffing ceasefire calls and press Beijing to moderate its unsettling role.

Brahma Chellaney is professor of strategic studies at the privately funded Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.

Japan Times


  1. no civil war .. Cant you understand..
    this war is against LTTE. the butchers..

  2. what about the human rights violations and denial of any rights to Tamil civilians by LTTE AND THEIR ARMS SMUGLING AND HEROIN TRADE Mr, Chellaney? Where were you?

  3. Be real.Cant SINHALESE learn from INDIA how to live in a multi lingual society? Is it so imposible to lift their head and look at INDIA which is just 18 Km away?Cant they read newspapers about how NHERU & CO handled the language problem and reorganised INDIA on language lines?Cant they take a plane trip land in delhi and see for themselves How INDAIN languages and regional cultures are flourishing?How every state imparts school education in local languages?How higher education is done in ENGLISH? HOW because of ENGLISH we have become a software super power?How even though 70% INDIANS dont understand their PM speaking in parliament they vote in right governments that guard the cultural plurality of INDIA?

    The answer is they know it perfectly well. BUT THEY HAVE NO INTENTION OF DOING IT. WHY? They IDEALIZE the PAKISTANIS who imposed URDU on BANGLADESHIS and commited genocoide when they resisted it.There is practicaly no difference between them and PAKISTAN. THEY both are racists.They wish the destruction of INDIAN multi cultural nation.They were seeking support from US in the past and CHINA at present giving harbour facilities to CHINA

    Sri Lankan Tamils are paying the price for the tamilian vote to UPA in the last election.The Hindus of Srilanka are being killed by Budhist sinhalese race with the help of Christian Sonia.Had the BJP was in power would they let it happen?Many half baked foolish north indians writing in these comments dont realize that more than 1000 Indian Tamil Fisher men have been killed by the SLA Navy as one of the largest Navies in the world Indian Navy stood watching by.Even pakistan only arrests Erring indiaan fishermen straying into the their waters.INDIAN CHANNELS has never ran a story on that

    . Srilankans helped PAKISTANI AIRFORCE planes to refuel and fly to bangladesh against the warnings of indira's government during 1972 indian war with pakistan. Guess who whre on these planes? PAKISTANI MILITARY PERSONNEL in civilian clothes.Once they landed in DHAKA they changed their clothes and killed indian soldiers and commited genocoide of lakhs of Bengalis in BANGLADESH.

    Srilanka always supported American proposal for nuclear free zone in south asia nuch to india's chargin.They never supported INDIAN stand on kashmir.Now they are openly filrting with CHINA.Why your channel never goes back in history to dig the truth?

    Now they are giving the HAMBANTOTA deep sea port to CHINA. for what? to refuel the chinese navy ships like GWADER port in PAKISTAN.PAKISTANIs supplied emergency military aid to srilanka during the height of KARGIL war. Now a genocoidal leader like RAJAPAKSE is glorified as a soverign head of state.

    RAJIV GANDHI was misled into SRILANKA by a coterie that includes ROMESH BANDARI and others.The whole INDO-SRILANKAN accord is a trap,because it doesnit mentions any specific rights to Tamils.PRABHAKARAN was coerced into the agreement by virtualy jailing him inside DELHI's HOTEL ASHOKA.

    NO senior tamil politician was consulted.The then foreign seceretary VENKATESWARAN saw through the SINHALA plot and adviced against it. Guess what? He was dismissed.Such was the influence of the coterie around the inexperienced RAJIV that he dismissed a seasoned diplomat thinking that SRILANKA was desiring genuine freindship with INDIA.

    Once IPKF went there they showed their true colours. They did every thing to sabotage the fake accord.Theyploted to turn INDIA against LTTE.14 senior leaders of LTTE were arrested by Sri Lankan Army in peace time and deported to COLOMBO in gross violation of the accord and they all commited suicide.Did the INDIAN government raise any voice? no. why? because the entire INDO,-SRILANKAN accord was a Clever bait by sinhalese.

    They feigned to lease TRICONAMALEE port to US allow VOA staion there.When INDIA confronted them they baited INDIA by saying OK we wont do that, But we will send you some papers regarding a few proposal to TAMILS , We will sign a peace accord throwing some false promises to Sri LANKAN TAMILS.And SRILANKA will fall into indian camp. INDIA fell for this bait. The late JEYAWARDHANE has openly talked about it later in his life.MORONS like SONIA who cant even can hold a proper press conference, who cant even complete a degree in LONDIN during 3 years stay will never comprehend the treacherous minds of SINHALA FOXES.

    When LTTE protested to IPKF they couldnt do anything about it.LTTE too is guilty in opposing indians. But what will they say to their cadres when 14 senior commanders were killed right under the nose of IPKF. They remained silent only.Waves of protestsa in srilanka followed .DHILEEPAN took a fast unto death in jaffana.After many months the IPKF installed its puppet PADHMANABHA as chief minister of the NORTH EAST state in a bogus election.And LTTE took on the IPKF only after that.

    THE TAMIL-SINHALA divide is an old running sore.Tamils of srilanka went to there 1000 years before.The sinhalese are also migrants form kerala,bengal and bihar areas of india.just a hundred years before them.The Sinhala lies that they are the true sons of soil is white lie.Sri LANKA is just 18 Km away from Tamil Nadu.And the waters are shallow.There is an evidence of abridge type natural formation from NASA photos. Wont Tamils cross this just 18 Km in 2000 years?

    Right from the day British left the ISLAND the sinhalese are denying education in TAMIL for TAMILS and government jobs.They have a racist envy about educationaly forward TAMILIANS.They are denying all rights to them.MILLIONS of TAMILS live in foreign countries as a refugees. OUR country is also fighting many insurgencies.Is it using 120 mm guns,helicopter gunships,and airforce bombesrs on them? They are only used against foreign enemies.Thats how sinhalese regard Tamils.They know very well that their obsolete artillery and bombers will kill 100 more civilians for every LTTE killed.They relish the thougt.SO be it. Their true intention is commiting genocoide

    the tamils like ABDUL KALLAM is makin missiles. Tamil Scientist CHIDAMBARM was the head of the atomic bomb division.The BRAHMOS missile chief is SIVADHANU PILLAI a TAMIL. The CHANDRIYAN project head MAYILSAMY ANNADURAI is a TAMIL also.hundreds of TAMILIANS have laid down their life for defence of INDIA in kashmir, KARGIL, even in AFGANISTAN. YET the INDIAN government under RAJIV GANDHI fell for the SINHALESE bait.Ignoring the wellfare of TAMIL RACE in SRILANKA.He didnt consult a single TAMILIA POLITICIAN on the accord.This is what happens when inexperienced charismatic leaders get into power.A security relationship was thrown as a bait by SRLANKANS and that was it.

    Every NORTH INDIAN would have watched on the TV how a sinhalese soldier tried to kill RAJIV in SRILANKA.He is living free in SRILANKA today.SRILANKAN government has covered it up as an act of an individual.During IPKF time 1000 indians and 10000 Tamilians were killed. WHo was responsible for this?

    The INDIAN TAMILS were completelt against the treacherous killing of RAJIV GANDHI. They annoited congress government of NARASHIMA RAO and MANMOHAN SINGH.
    But still SONIA GANDHI's help for the genocoidal srilankans illustrate that the LTTE's fears on RAJIV was justified.LTTE feared that RAJIV will once again be fooled by LANKANS and they will be finished if he comes to power again.If you are in PRABHA KARAN's shoes what will you do?
    after that they never destabilised INDIA.During NARASHIMA RAO,VAJPAYEE,MANMOHAN regimes,How many INDIANS were killed by LTTE? Come SONIA GANDHI the SINHALESE are only gloating.Did they try to assasinate SONIA in the past 15 years? Every one knows they will die for a cause once they aim for it.They have the capability to do anything.But they didnt try.Now in gross violation of all constitutional norms She is helping the sinhalese to kill 20000 TAMILS.Is the death of 20000 TAMILS not enough of a punishment? SHE still wants more.Enacting a careful drama of forgiving NALINI ,an accomplice in RAJIV assasination, SHE is secretely assisting the SINHALESE in this genocoide of TAMILS.The US,BRITISH,CANADIAN,NORWEGIAN governments were urging Sinhalese to stop the genocoide.but INDIA is keeping quiet.WHY?

    In April 2007 Sri Lanka signed a classified $37.6 million (£25 million) deal to buy Chinese ammunition and ordnance for its army and navy, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly.

    China gave Sri Lanka — apparently free of charge — six F7 jet fighters last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, after a daring raid by the Tigers’ air wing destroyed ten military aircraft in 2007. One of the Chinese fighters shot down one of the Tigers’ aircraft a year later.

    “China’s arms sales have been the decisive factor in ending the military stalemate,” Brahma Chellaney, of the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, said. “There seems to have been a deal linked to Hambantota.”

    Since 2007 China has encouraged Pakistan to sell weapons to Sri Lanka and to train Sri Lankan pilots to fly the Chinese fighters, according to Indian security sources.

    China has also provided crucial diplomatic support in the UN Security Council, blocking efforts to put Sri Lanka on the agenda. It has also boosted financial aid to Sri Lanka, even as Western countries have reduced their contributions.

    China’s aid to Sri Lanka jumped from a few million dollars in 2005 to almost $1 billion last year, replacing Japan as the biggest foreign donor. By comparison, the United States gave $7.4 million last year, and Britain just £1.25 million.

    “That’s why Sri Lanka has been so dismissive of international criticism,” said B. Raman of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. “It knows it can rely on support from China.”

    Jeremy Page is The Times’s South Asia correspondent.

  4. I just cannot believe how far-reaching and self-indulgent this response is to the actual state of affairs in Sri-Lanka. And is Mr.Brahma Chellaney centre privately funded by the LTTE?

    Because no sane intellect would ever demean a country's right to defend itself against a well-known and well-documented terrorist group (the word terrorist being coined by the international community) - who in the pretext of 'saving'the tamil minority in Srilanka against so-called discrimination has effectively been the means to their own demise. How on earth do u justify the LTTE using their own people as human shields against the recent government offensive? When the govt repeatedly told them to lay down their weapons and surrender.

    And I would highly recommend that Mr.intellect/ professor Chellaney to visit Sri Lanka and draw his own conclusions by actually speaking with and collecting tangible evidence from the tamils living in Sri Lanka who are allegdely being discriminated against - instead of sitting in his privately funded research facility and reading up on properganda that is published by the tamilnet and other pro-ltte websites and agencies.

    Would the professor take the same stance with the Taliban or Al-Qaeda against the war atrocities casued by the US militery during their war in Iraq & Afghanistan?
    I think not.... especially since Inda currently sits like a lap dog dancing to every tune the US dictates.

    Kindly keep your baised opionions and research material to fanatics that support such terrorism and not have us suffer through a monologue - especially on international news channels.

  5. Well said Ishara! Who is this Professor Challaney anyway? One of a billion people in India whose opinion is of no significance to the Sri Lankan public who have had to undergo nearly 30 years of torment at the hands of a pathological butcher who has hoodwinked a handful of tamils living in the luxury of their safe havens in the EU and Canada.
    Prof, if you have not lived in Sri Lanka, don't make judgements on issues you don't understand. Find something else to work on. Here are some suggestions to help you intellectual mind; 1. The slums of India? 2. Child labor? 3. Kashmir Conflict?? Hope it helps!

  6. To all the Sinhala modayas. This article is not about whether the LTTE is a terrorist or not. This is about Sri Lanka bringing China dangerously close to India. The author being an indian is expressing worry at Chinas behaviour and Sri Lanka willing to create a dangerous situation for the entire subcontinent. In such a scheme, the LTTE and Sri Lankan public are actually just minor points. The ramifications can affect all of southern asia. Thats how dangerous China is


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