RED CHINA -The Expansionist
TIBETAN RESISTANCE MOVEMENT IS NOT ABOUT SEPARATISM
On behalf of Living Tibetan Spirits, I declare that The Tibetan Resistance Movement is not about Separatism. For centuries, Chinese Emperors ruled over Tibet without physically occupying Tibet. In other words, Tibetans enjoyed full freedom during the centuries of rule by foreigners. Tibetans resist the physical occupation of their territories. The issue is not that of separating Tibet from China. The issue is that of evicting the Occupier from Tibetan Soil.
CHINA LEADER CALLS FOR ‘ANTI-SEPARATISM EFFORTS’ IN TIBET
The Associated Press
FILE – In this Sept. 17, 2014, file photo, an Exile Tibetan woman wears a mask during a protest to highlight Chinese control over Tibet, coinciding with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)
A top Chinese leader has called for “advancing anti-separatism efforts” in Tibet, in a sign of continued high-pressure tactics in the Himalayan region.
Wang Yang, the ruling Communist Party’s No. 4 ranking official, was quoted Monday in state media as stressing the importance of tight control over Tibet’s Buddhist institutions, urging “preparedness and precautions for danger in times of safety.”
Religious figures must “be courageous to battle all separatist elements” in the name of preserving national unity and social stability, Wang was quoted as saying in Tibet’s regional capital of Lhasa during a visit there on Sunday.
Beijing’s forces occupied Tibet shortly after the 1949 communist revolution and security there has been ratcheted up significantly in the decade since anti-government protests spread through Tibetan areas in 2008.
The tactics in Tibet are largely aimed at reducing the influence of the region’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India. China claims Tibet has been part of its territory for more than seven centuries and regards the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist.
Many Tibetans insist they were essentially independent for much of that time.
Wang has broad responsibility for religious policy as head of the government’s top political advisory body. In his comments Sunday, he also echoed Beijing’s calls for the Sinicization of religion, shorthand for adherence to the dictates of the officially atheist party.
Among recent tightening security measures in Tibet, students were required to sign agreements to “not take part in any form of religious activity” during the summer school holidays.
Young Tibetan monks have also reportedly been forced to leave one of the biggest monasteries in a Tibetan region of western China as part of a drive to replace monastic life with secular education.
Recent months have also seen sweeping crackdowns on traditional Muslim culture among the Uighur ethnic minority group in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and among Christians in eastern China.
FBI Director’s threat assessment demands US–Tibet Direct Dialogue
In FBI Director Christopher Wray’s evaluation, China is ‘most significant’ threat to US. In my analysis, the threat posed by Communist China requires an immediate response. On behalf of Living Tibetan Spirits, I recommend US-Tibet Direct Dialogue to confront threats arising from spread of Communism to mainland China. It must be said, Tibetans understand China’s deception better than any other people in our world.
FBI Director Chris Wray says China is ‘most significant’ threat to US – Business Insider
FBI Director Christopher Wray at the Aspen Security Forum. Screenshot/Aspen Security Forum
Amid rampant discussion about Russian election interference and espionage, FBI Director Christopher Wray has deemed China the largest, most concerning threat to the US.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday, Wray was asked whether he saw China as an adversary and, if so, to what level.
“I think China, from a counterintelligence perspective, in many ways represents the broadest, most challenging, most significant threat we face as a country,” Wray answered.
“And I say that because for them it is a whole of state effort. It is economic espionage as well as traditional espionage; it is nontraditional collectors as well as traditional intelligence operatives; it’s human sources as well as cyber means.
“We have economic-espionage investigations in every state, all 50 states, that trace back to China. It covers everything from corn seeds in Iowa to wind turbines in Massachusetts and everything in between. So the volume of it, the pervasiveness of it, the significance of it, is something I think this country cannot underestimate.”
The comments follow a 2017 report by the US trade representative that accused China of “trade secret theft, rampant online piracy and counterfeiting, and high levels of physical pirated and counterfeit exports.” The report found intellectual-property theft by China was costing the US up to $600 billion annually.
It seems a far more strategic and wide-ranging effort than Russia’s ongoing interference efforts, which dominated headlines in the US this week amid President Donald Trump’s widely panned summit with President Vladimir Putin.
Wray said Russia needed to be dealt with “aggressively,” but he seemed far more concerned with what he called China’s efforts to position itself as “the sole dominant superpower, the sole dominant economic power.”
“They’re trying to replace the US in that role, and so theirs is a long-term game that’s focused on just about every industry, every quarter of society in many ways,” Wray said. “It involves academia, it involves research and development, it involves everything from agriculture to high-tech. And so theirs is a more pervasive, broader approach but in many ways more of a long-term threat to the country.”
This isn’t the first time China’s patience and willingness to play the long game have been described as reasons its interference campaigns are more successful than those of Russia.
John Garnaut. Screenshot
Earlier this year, John Garnaut, who led a secret government inquiry into China’s political influence in Australia, told the US House Armed Services Committee that Russia preferred “focused, sharp strikes,” while Beijing’s actions were more incremental.
“Unlike Russia, which seems to be as much for a good time rather than a long time, the Chinese are strategic, patient, and they set down foundations of organizations and very consistent narratives over a long period of time,” Garnaut told the committee.
Garnaut’s report found China had attempted to influence politics at all levels in Australia. The Australian government has since introduced new foreign-interference laws— much to Beijing’s ire — and the issue is frequently discussed and debated in the public sphere.
It’s this widespread shift toward a consensus on China’s influence and interference attempts that Wray described as “one of the bright spots” since he became FBI director just over 10 months ago.
“It’s one of the few things I’ve seen that, in a country where it feels like some people can’t even agree on what day of the week it is, on this I think people are starting to come together,” Wray said.
“I see it in the interagency, I see it up on the Hill when I’m talking to the intelligence committees across the spectrum. I think people are starting to wake up and rub the cobwebs, or sleep, out of their eyes. And my hope is we’re in a moment where we can pivot and start to take this much more seriously.”
LIVING TIBETAN SPIRITS OPPOSE COLONIZATION OF LAND OF TIBET
India, “ARYABHOOMI” of Tibet won freedom to reject colonization of India by British Empire. For the same reason, Living Tibetan Spirits oppose colonization of Land of Tibet by evil Red Chinese Empire. Colonization of Tibet poses grave dangers to environment and climate of India as well as all other nations of South Asia.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
INDIA IS OUR ARYABHOOMI, SAYS THE DALAI LAMA – THE HINDU
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. | Photo Credit: M.A. SRIRAM
Giving up the idea of an independent Tibet, the Dalai Lama talks of peace, democracy and self–rule
The institution of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political head of the Tibetans, has survived for over 400 years. Since 2001, however, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, has reduced his involvement in politics in a bid to introduce representative democracy. In an exclusive interview, the Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke about seeking autonomy for Tibet within China, and his commitment to reviving ancient Indian Buddhist teachings. Edited excerpts:
On 60 years of exile and the possibility of returning home.
I have lived in India for the better part of my life, but the possibility of returning to Tibet is there. Since we are not seeking separation, there’s a good chance that we may return. I admire the model of the European Union where sovereign nations come together to protect common regional interests. In our times, sovereignty is important but protecting common interest more so. Tibet is an independent nation, but now the time has come for it to embrace change. The ancient reality has changed. We will remain within the People’s Republic of China, but we should have the full right to preserve our ecology and culture. Tibetan refugees have preserved well our traditional language and knowledge systems. Our people have been the most successful refugee community anywhere. They are hardworking and law-abiding. While the main base is India, they have also moved to Canada, Switzerland, and other European countries.
What about the Tibetans in Tibet?
There are six million Tibetans living inside Tibet who trust me. So, I have the moral responsibility to protect them as well. Although I gave up handling political matters since 2001, when I retired, I continued to be partially involved for the next 10 years. In 2011, I retired fully. Since childhood, I have admired democracy. Our old system of the Dalai Lama and regents has too much power vested in a few people. That is a mistake. The best thing is a democratic system. So, I began work on creating a democratic system for Tibetans. We created the system of elected political leadership in 2001.
Within Tibet, my priority is the environment. All major rivers of Asia come from Tibet. I think over a billion people depend on rivers originating from Tibet — Brahmaputra, Mekong, Indus, etc. Due to global warming and other reasons, this is affected. Once I met a Chinese ecologist who said that global warming levels in the Tibetan plateau are as much as in the North and South Poles, so he called Tibet the Third Pole. The environmental damage and deforestation needs to stop.
On reviving ancient Indian knowledge systems.
Since childhood, we have studied texts authored by Indian Buddhist scholars such as Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Buddhapalita and Dharmakirti; all our knowledge comes from India. Buddha attained enlightenment here. All the great masters of Nalanda are Indian. Hence, we Tibetans refer to India as our Aryabhoomi (precious land). Historically, our relation is very deep. When Buddhists go to Bodh Gaya, they collect the leaves of the Bodhi tree and sometimes even the bird droppings! (laughs) When we come to India, we feel we have returned to our spiritual home. So, I feel very strongly about subjects such as ancient Indian psychology. Practices such as Shamata and Vipassana involve analytical meditation, and single-minded focus to analyze the nature of reality. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this is not emphasized.
The problems of the current world are our own creation. War mobilizes violence. It is a human creation. We need to revive the ancient Indian concept of karuna (compassion) and ahimsa (non-violence). The 1,000-year-old tradition of secularism is very relevant to today’s world. I consider myself a messenger of ancient Indian thought.
The Nalanda tradition is a scientific way. The Buddha himself once asked his followers to not accept his teachings out of faith or devotion, but only after thorough investigation. In fact, some of his teachings were rejected by his followers this way. It was around 8 CE that an Indian Buddhist master, Santarakshita, brought Buddha dharma to Tibet. I strongly feel this tradition must be preserved, as an academic subject. Tibetan knowledge is Indian knowledge. It’s a pity that modern India has completely neglected it.
On religious harmony.
Though the fundamental message of all religions is the same, people continue to fight over it. In Sri Lanka, Buddhists are fighting with Tamil Hindus, and in Myanmar, they are fighting with Muslims. The Buddhists don’t believe in god. So between Buddhists and non-Buddhists there are serious differences. This ought to be resolved through intellectual debate. Many Nalanda masters learnt much from non-Buddhists through constructive debate. That is the greatness of India. Though there were differences in philosophical thought, it was never used for propagating violence. Hindu, Jain and Buddhist philosophies are home-grown, and Zoroastrian, Judaism and Christianity came from outside. Today, they all live together here. I am completely convinced that religious harmony is possible everywhere.
RED CHINA – AGGRESSOR
In my analysis, Communist China, Red China is aggressor, hegemonist, imperialist, Expansionist,Neocolonialist, and Evil One occupying Tibet using military force. I do not consider the actions of Tibet, or of India to explain as to why Tibet lost Freedom in 1950.
HOW TIBET LOST ITS INDEPENDENCE AND INDIA ITS GENTLE NEIGHBOR
It relates to the sequence of events and the role of KM Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador in China, during the weeks after the invasion of Tibet.
Dekyi Linka, the Indian Mission in Lhasa till 1952 (thereafter the Indian Consulate-General).
Claude Arpi, holding the Field Marshal KM Cariappa Chair of Excellence from the United Service Institution of India (USI), for his research on the Indian Presence in Tibet 1947-1962 (in 4 volumes), has extensively worked in the National Archives of India and well the Nehru Library (on the Nehru Papers) on the history of Tibet, the Indian frontiers and particularly the Indian Frontier Administrative Service.
The Last Months of a Free Nation — India Tibet Relations (1947-1962) is the first volume of the series, using never-accessed-before Indian archival material. Though Tibet’s system of governance had serious lacunae, the Land of Snows was a free and independent nation till October 1950, when Mao decided to “liberate”it. But “liberate” from what, was the question on many diplomats’ and politicians’ lips in India; they realised that it would soon be a tragedy for India too; Delhi would have to live with a new neighbor, whose ideology was the opposite of Tibet’s Buddhist values; the border would not be safe anymore.
The narrative starts soon after Independence and ends with the signing, under duress, of the 17-Point Agreement in Beijing in May 1951, whose first article says: “The Tibetan people shall unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet; the Tibetan people shall return to the big family of the Motherland-the People’s Republic of China.” Tibet had lost its Independence …and India, a gentle neighbour.
Reproduced below are extracts from a chapter The View from the South Block.
It relates to the sequence of events and the role of KM Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador in China, during the weeks after the invasion of Tibet.
It is usually assumed that Sardar Patel, the Deputy Prime Minister wrote his “prophetic” letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister, detailing the grave implications for India of Tibet’s invasion. In fact, he used a draft sent to him by Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai, the Secretary General of the Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth.
On November 7, 1950, just a month after the entry of the People’s Liberation Army in Tibet, Patel sent Bajpai’s note to Nehru under his own signature Bajpai, the top-most Indian diplomat, was deeply upset by the turn of events; he also shared his note with President Rajendra Prasad, C. Rajagopalachari and others. Nehru ignored Patel’s letter and the views of his colleagues.
It is usually assumed that Sardar Patel, the Deputy Prime Minister of India wrote the “prophetic” letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister, detailing the grave implications for India of Tibet’s invasion. In fact, he used a draft sent to him by Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai, the Secretary General of the Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth. On November 7, 1950, a month after the entry of the People’s Liberation Army in Tibet, Patel sent Bajpai’s note under his own signature, to Nehru, who ignored Patel’s letter.
Bajpai, deeply upset by the turn of events, had also sent his note to President Rajendra Prasad and C Rajagopalachari.
Girija Shankar Bajpai’s Note of October 31
Bajpai first noted that on July 15, 1950, the Governor of Assam had informed Delhi that, according to information received by the local Intelligence Bureau, Chinese troops, “in unknown strength, had been moving towards Tibet from three directions, namely the north, north-east and south-east.” The same day, the Indian Embassy in China reported that rumours in Beijing had been widely “prevalent during the last two days that military action against Tibet has already begun.” Though Panikkar was unable to get any confirmation, he virtually justified Beijing’s military action by writing: “in view of frustration in regard to Formosa, Tibetan move was not unlikely.” A few days later], Bajpai remarked that the Ambassador [Panikkar] had answered [Delhi] that he did not consider the time suitable for making a representation to the Chinese Foreign Office. Bajpai is more and more frustrated with Panikkar’s surrender to Chinese interests and perhaps also by the support that the ambassador gets from the Prime Minister. The Secretary General is clearly in a difficult position. Already on July 20, Panikkar’s attention had been drawn by South Block to the fact that Beijing’s argument that the “Tibetans had been stalling the talks,” was wrong. Panikkar had been informed by Delhi that the Tibetan Delegation should not be blamed for something they are not responsible for…
Panikkar brings in philosophical issues
India [Panikkar] attempted to change the Communist regime’s decision to “liberate” Tibet, by bringing a philosophical angle to the issue: “In the present dangerous world situation, a military move can only bring a world nearer [to a conflict], and any Government making such a move incurs the risk of accelerating the drift towards that catastrophe.”
Mao was not in the least bothered about such niceties.
Delhi again repeats its “philosophical” position: it would be bad for Beijing to invade Tibet: “The Government of India would desire to point out that a military action at the present time against Tibet will give those countries in the world which are unfriendly to China a handle for anti-Chinese propaganda at a crucial and delicate juncture in inter-national affairs.” Delhi is convinced that “the position of China will be weakened” by a (Chinese) military solution.
The Chinese plans are clear
The objective of Mao and the Southwestern Bureau in Chengdu is to occupy Chamdo, it is therefore clear that the PLA is preparing to enter “Tibet proper”. …The objective remains the fall of Chamdo before the winter, ambassador or no ambassador, negotiation or no negotiations.
As Tibet is invaded, Sir Girija’s narrative continues:
On October 17, the Indian Ambassador receives the full details of the Chinese invasion of Tibet. South Block confirms that Tibet has been invaded, it was “brought to our notice at the request of the Tibetan Government in a message sent through our Mission in Lhasa,” says a cable from Delhi. The next day, Panikkar continues to argue against the invasion having happened; he says that out of the incidents to which Lhasa has drawn Delhi’s attention, only one appears to be new.
Bajpai more upset
Sir Girija Bajpai is further upset when Panikkar argues: “Further I should like to emphasise that the Chinese firmly hold that Tibet is purely an internal problem and that while they are prepared in deference to our wishes to settle question peacefully they are NOT prepared to postpone matters indefinitely.”
This is written by the Ambassador of India.
(On October 22], Nehru cables the Ambassador in Beijing: “I confess I am completely unable to understand urgency behind Chinese desire to ‘liberate’ when delay CANNOT possibly change situation to her disadvantage.”
Finally on October 24, the Ambassador presents an aide-memoire to the Chinese Foreign Office. Bajpai notes “The contrast between the tone and content of the instructions sent to the Ambassador, and his feeble and apologetic ‘note’ deserves notice.” This raises a question, how could the ambassador present an aide-memoire without its content being vetted by South Block? It is a mystery.
Bajpai could only conclude that “from the foregoing narrative which I have been at some pains to document, that ever since the middle of July, at least, Peking’s objective has been to settle the problem of its relations by force.” From Mao’s cables, [one can see that] the invasion (or “liberation” for the Chinese side) did not at all depend on “negotiations” or “talks” with Tibetans. The army action had been decided since months.
Though Bajpai says that he is not interested to find “scapegoats”, he finally blames his ambassador to China: “The search for scapegoats is neither pleasant nor fruitful, and I have no desire to indulge in any such pastime. …however, I feel it my duty to observe that, in handling the Tibetan issue with the Chinese Government, our Ambassador has allowed himself to be influenced more by the Chinese point of view, by Chinese claims, by Chinese maps and by regard for Chinese susceptibilities than by his instructions or by India’s interests.” This is a strong, though late indictment of Panikkar.
Patel replies to Bajpai
…When on October 31, Sardar Patel wrote back to Bajpai: “The Chinese advance into Tibet upsets all our security calculations. …I entirely agree with you that a reconsideration of our military position and disposition of our forces are inescapable.” A few days later, Bajpai would write a note for Patel who sent it to Nehru, who did not even acknowledge it… Patel passed away five weeks later.
The rest is history.
LOOK AT TIBET ISSUE FROM ALL ANGLES
TO OPENLY CLAIM CHINA IS EVIL
I look at Tibet issue from all angles to openly claim China is Evil Power, Tyrant, Aggressor, and Neocolonialist.
MERCEDES-BENZ APOLOGIZES TO CHINA
OVER DALAI LAMA POST
Mercedes-Benz has become the latest major global brand to offer a public apology after upsetting the Chinese government on a sensitive subject.
The carmaker apologized Tuesday for hurting “the feelings” of Chinese people by quoting the Dalai Lama in a post on its Instagram account. The move comes just weeks after Marriott, Delta Air Lines and other big names found themselves in trouble with Beijing over how they described politically sensitive places like Taiwan and Tibet.
The Chinese government has launched frequent attacks on the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, calling him a “traitor” and a separatist. Beijing considers Tibet to be part of its territory and comes down hard on any suggestions to the contrary.
Mercedes, which is owned by Daimler, (DDAIF) ran afoul of China’s stance when it paired a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama with a photo of one of its luxury sedans on Instagram — a social media platform that is banned in China.
“Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open,” the quote read.
The ad was posted on Monday and garnered nearly 90,000 likes before Mercedes deleted it the following day, according to a screenshot posted by Chinese state media.
The Global Times, a state-run newspaper that often strikes a nationalistic tone, criticized Mercedes, saying the company was quick to respond to the incident but shouldn’t make such mistakes in the first place.
Mercedes issued a statement in Chinese about the incident on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter (TWTR), offering a “sincere apology” three separate times.
“We fully understand how it has hurt the feelings of people in the country, including our colleagues working in China, we sincerely apologize for this,” Mercedes said, adding that the post contained “extremely erroneous information.”
With its rising middle class and growing economic might, China is a key market for many global brands. Mercedes is no exception.
Of the nearly 2.4 million vehicles it sold worldwide last year, more than a quarter were snapped up by Chinese buyers.
A growing number of international companies have recently found themselves in hot water in China over politically sensitive issues.
Authorities last month blocked Marriott’s websites and apps for a week in China after it listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate countries in its emails and apps. Marriott (MAR) apologized profusely, saying it respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.
Shortly after that, Delta (DAL) came under fire for similarly listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries. It said it was “an inadvertent error with no business or political intention” in its apology.
At the same time, the owner of European clothing brand Zara was chastised by regulators for listing Taiwan as a country and ordered to rectify the situation.
China and Taiwan — officially the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China — separated in 1949 following the Communist victory on the mainland after a civil war.
They have been governed separately since, though a shared cultural and linguistic heritage mostly endures, with Mandarin spoken as the official language in both places. The government in Beijing has always maintained that Taiwan is a renegade province that is part of its sovereign territory.
Communist China sent troops into Tibet in 1950 to enforce its claim on the region and has controlled it since 1951 — though the central government in Beijing has faced repeated bouts of unrest from ethnic Tibetans unhappy over its rule.
— Nanlin Fang contributed to this report.
CNNMoney (Hong Kong) First published February 7, 2018: 2:43 AM ET
CHINESE’ STRING OF PEARLS’ TIGHTENS NOOSE AROUND SRI LANKAN NECK
China’s Neocolonialism is tightening the noose around necks of cash-strapped economies of countries in Asia and Africa while the United States watches helplessly as a silent spectator.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
WITH SRI LANKAN PORT ACQUISITION, CHINA ADDS ANOTHER ‘PEARL’ TO ITS ‘STRING’ – CNN
The Hambantota port facility, 2015
(CNN)When Sri Lanka’s government first looked to develop a port on its southern coast that faced the Indian Ocean, it went not to China, but to its neighbor, India.
The venture was considered economically unviable and indeed, in the years that followed, the port sat empty and neglected, and Sri Lanka’s debt ballooned.
But India’s economic foresight might have cost it in terms of strategic geopolitics, since the debt incurred on the port and the surrounding infrastructure undertakings now belong to its great rival.
China’s official licensing of the port in December last year gives it yet another point of access over a key shipping route, and the prospect of providing it with a sizeable presence in India’s immediate backyard and traditional sphere of influence, bringing China closer to India’s shores than New Delhi might like.
Sri Lankan dancers perform at the site of the Hambantota port during a ceremony marking the first phase of construction, August 15, 2010.
Moreover, Sri Lanka’s decision to sign a 99-year lease with a Chinese state-owned company for the Hambantota port to service some of the billions it owes to Beijing has some observers concerned other developing nations doing business with China as part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative might fall into similar financial straits.
A trap, they warn, that may well have them owing more than just money to Beijing.
“China is, in many cases, the only party with the interest and the capital to deliver on these projects,” said Jeff Smith, a research fellow on South Asia at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. “The relevant question for everyone is: at what cost?”
‘A determined strategy by China’
China has for decades invested in Sri Lanka, particularly during moments in recent history when much of the international community held off.
As the European Union sought to punish Sri Lanka over human rights abuses during the decades-long civil war between government forces and the Tamil Tigers, China acted on its behalf diplomatically at the United Nations. It also supplied the Rajapaksa government with military aid and it promised to spend to rebuild the country’s damaged infrastructure. India had also sent in military help, but nowhere near the levels Beijing dispatched.
The civil war ended in 2009. Between 2005 and 2017, China spent nearly $15 billion in Sri Lanka. By comparison, the International Finance Corporation, which is part of the World Bank group, says that between 1956 and 2016, it invested over $1 billion.
Jeff Smith points out that along with the Hambantota port investments, Beijing loaned Sri Lanka $200 million in 2010 for a second international airport and a year later a further $810 million for the “second phase of the port project.”
There was more. $272 million for a railway in 2013 and more than $1 billion for the Colombo Port City project, ventures that hired mostly Chinese workers (one Sri Lankan report put the number of Chinese workers dedicated to projects in 2009 at 25,000), and all with money Sri Lanka could barely afford to repay.
By 2015, Sri Lanka owed China $8 billion, and Sri Lankan government officials predicted that accumulated foreign debt — both owed to China and other countries — would eat up 94% of the country’s GDP.
After an equity swap, an IMF bailout and more control over the projects ceded to Beijing, the terms of the debt were restructured, giving Sri Lanka some breathing space.
In 2017, however, the Hambantota port proved too costly for Sri Lanka to sustain.
“They (the Chinese) called in the debt, and the debt has been paid by Sri Lanka giving them the (Hambantota) port. That port then gives them not only a strategic access point into India’s sphere of influence through which China can deploy its naval forces, but it also gives China an advantageous position to export its goods into India’s economic sphere, so it’s achieved a number of strategic aims in that regard,” said Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Sydney.
“This is part of a determined strategy by China to extend its influence across the Indian Ocean at the expense of India and it’s using Sri Lanka to achieve it,” he said.
Details of the new agreement between China and Sri Lanka have not been made public.
The port is an “important project aimed at spurring local economic growth based on equality and mutual benefits,” according to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It declined to answer further when asked by reporters.
Construction workers operate heavy equipment at the base of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port August 1, 2010. Some 350 Chinese staff helped in the first phase of construction.
‘Creating demand for Chinese goods’
China’s claiming of controlling stakes in strategic ports along critical shipping lanes — what analysts have taken to referring to as its “string of pearls” — beginning at the Straits of Malacca and dotting the Indian Ocean, should signal Beijing’s ultimate ambitions, said Davis.
“There’s a bigger picture here, that the more you invest in the Belt and Road initiative, the more the Chinese are in a position to force your country to align politically in terms of policy,” Davis told CNN.
“So you become dependent on their investment and their largesse, and you’re less likely to be critical of them and you’re more likely to accommodate their interests strategically.”
China launched its ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) development strategy in 2013, investing in projects that include thousands of miles of highways in Pakistan, an international airport in Nepal and a rail link between China and Laos. The initiative would come to span more than 68 countries and encompass 4.4 billion people and up to 40% of global GDP. Consisting of two distinct parts, the Silk Road Economic Belt would stretch from China to Europe and include a host of trade and infrastructure projects, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road would be a sea-based network of shipping lanes and port developments throughout Asia and the Pacific.
Beijing’s other potential partners are finding difficulty with some of their own joint projects.
Last November the government in Nepal scrapped a $2.5 billion deal with a Chinese company to build the biggest hydropower plant in the Himalayan country because of “irregularities” in the award process. The current Nepalese government, which had replaced the cabinet that had approved the earlier deal, announced the contract would instead go to a state-owned Nepali company.
In Myanmar, a $3.6 billion dam project has stalled. The then-military backed government suspended work on the Myitsone dam in the north of the country in 2011, with talks regarding its future ongoing.
Pakistan withdrew from a $14 billion agreement with China for a dam last November because the conditions of the deal included China taking ownership of the project and were “not doable and against our interests,” Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority chairman Muzammil Hussain was quoted as saying. Like Nepal, Pakistan has since indicated it would also look to shoulder the cost of the dam rather than go to an outside investor.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed to be unaware of this when asked about the situation by reporters in Beijing in December. The country’s top economic planning agency later said that the two countries were discussing cooperating on the dam project but that there’d been no discussion of proposals to move it forward. The agency said “Pakistan media’s reporting on this project has been inaccurate, or only represented the views of certain officials.”
But China is still spending in Pakistan. It is building a hydroelectric power station in the Rawalpindi district, and it is developing the port of Gwadar, strategically located on the Arabian Sea.
In Malaysia, China is spending $7.2 billion on a new deep sea port in the Straits of Malacca and working on infrastructure projects on the country’s eastern seaboard.
China’s trade deal with the Maldives government included investments in developing the international airport and a bridge, but the Maldives in return has taken on a significant number of controversial loan obligations.
Last July, former President Mohamed Nasheed said the loan interest the traditionally Indian ally pays to service its foreign debt to China is more than 20% of the country’s budget. He said that part of the deal included China’s receipt of 16 “strategically located islands” in navigation sea-lanes.
A Sri Lankan soldier walks past a billboard bearing portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ahead of Xi’s visit to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, September 15, 2014.
Dean Cheng, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, said that the initial wave of Chinese investments in the Indian Ocean, the so-called string of pearls, was largely driven by economic considerations. The investments, he said, “would facilitate economic growth, which would benefit Chinese companies. Moreover, the construction projects would entail Chinese workers (a feature of most Chinese projects abroad, bringing their own work force), and create a demand base for Chinese goods.”
At the same time, he said the Chinese are clearly intent on creating a friendly political network of states. “There’s nothing inherently dangerous about political considerations in economic investments,” he told CNN. “It would be foolish to think that any state is wholly driven by economic considerations.”
Leaders attend China’s Belt and Road Forum
The ever-encroaching Chinese presence into India’s sphere of political and economic influence has been noted, but so far, says Manoj Joshi, New Delhi purports to be unruffled, as long as Hambantota remains a commercial port, and no Chinese naval vessels suddenly appear in the vicinity.
“In 2014 a Chinese submarine was spotted in Colombo harbor and that was the first time we saw that and the Indian side was a bit concerned,” said Joshi, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. At the time Indian defense officials expressed “serious concern” to their Sri Lankan counterpart, and naval chiefs from both countries met to discuss the incidents. Then-Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said the government “keeps a constant watch on all developments concerning our national security and economic interests and takes necessary measures to safeguard them.”
A Chinese submarine and a Chinese warship were allowed to dock at the Colombo port in November 2014, just under two months after another Chinese submarine called into the same port. At the time both China and Sri Lanka dismissed New Delhi’s concerns, saying the vessels were on refueling stops during anti-piracy missions. Colombo port regularly hosts ships from numerous navies, including the US. But as China’s own navy becomes more ‘blue water’ [as in, able to move in open oceans around the world and not just in its own surrounding waters] these appearances will be more commonplace.
A Sri Lankan commando stands guard on the Hambantota construction site, November 18, 2010.
“It’s geopolitical competition and India sees itself as the foremost nation in Asia and with the Chinese building a port, building and airport, building roads in Sri Lanka, they’ve emerged as big investors there and the Indians are obviously feeling somewhat nervous because India doesn’t have those kind of resources to compete with,” Joshi told CNN.
“What we worry about is, we already have a border problem with China and now that competition goes to the Indian Ocean region. That could be against our interests.”
India and China share a 2,500 mile-long border, and have regularly faced off over perceived intrusions on each other’s terrain as well as activity in uninhabited territory claimed by China and Bhutan, an Indian ally.
“Everybody talks about China and India being major rivals, I think China doesn’t see India as a genuine long-term rival, I think it looks at India and sees a classic case of democracy gone wrong,” said Yvonne Chiu, assistant professor in the politics department at the University of Hong Kong.
“India is incredibly corrupt, its infrastructure is terrible, and it is riddled with religious and demographic problems,” she told CNN. “Except it is very large. It does have a big population as well and it’s on the border. So it’s a regional rival, but I don’t think they take India seriously as a global rival.”
Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, center, flanked by his eldest son and parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa, right, and Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne, left, tour the Hambantota construction site, November 18, 2010.
For its part, India is now taking an active interest in Hambantota. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to be in talks with Sri Lanka about taking over the airport near the port, which was built using Chinese funds that Beijing itself wants to manage and is pushing for control with the Sri Lankan government. During a media briefing last November, Raveesh Kumar, an official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, would only say that New Delhi has “a lot of developmental projects” going on in Sri Lanka and declined to elaborate further. Colombo has yet to make a decision involving the airport.
And New Delhi continues to actively participate in large-scale naval exercises in regional waters alongside allies Japan, and the US, and into the future, possibly Australia too, all to Beijing’s continued consternation.
Last year’s Malabar exercises in the Bay of Bengal involving the US, Japan and India were the largest the region has seen in more than two decades.
“India, of course, remains highly influential in Sri Lanka, and would not look kindly on any effort to pressure the government on matters related to defense and national security,” said Jeff Smith. “Nor would the Sri Lankan military, which values its exchanges with the US.”
Modi will be in Singapore in June, attending the Shangri-La dialogue, an annual meeting of defense ministers, military chiefs and defense officials from the Asia-Pacific. His keynote address will be carefully watched for words on China’s maritime expansion.
A White House unable to compete with China
South Asia’s problems are not on Washington’s radar right now, says Hong Kong University professor Chiu. The White House has much of its focus — along with a substantial naval presence — directed towards the Korean Peninsula and the ongoing crisis there. And while the US is distracted, China is slowly and incrementally changing the seascape in the Asia Pacific. China claims disputed islands in the South China Sea as part of its territory and has been militarizing some of those islands, reclaiming land on others and turning sandbars into islands to assert sovereignty over the area.
“Everything that they do, like building these islands (in the South China Sea) and stuff that is illegal internationally, but nobody wants to get into a conflict over, it adds up and you have a new status quo and it’s too late to do anything about it,” Chiu said.
“China can’t afford to go to war over anything … it would most likely lose against a major power … but these kind of small incremental things, people will let them get away with. As long as they’re patient, it could have the same effect as going to war.”
Even as China has taken the long view, Dean Cheng argues it’s never too late for the US and its allies to do something to counter Beijing’s ambitions.
“The US, in cooperation with India, Japan and possibly the European Union, could offer alternative financing,” Cheng said. “They could help train local officials, lawyers, etc., to become better negotiators. They can push for transparency, especially in Chinese-sponsored institutions to make clear the terms of the loans, payback processes, as well as how contracts are rewarded.”
Sri Lankan police stand guard during a protest in Colombo against the lease of the loss-making Hambantota port to China, February 1, 2017.
Last October US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a speech on the US relationship with India. Tillerson said it was up to New Delhi and Washington to “do a better job leveraging our collective expertise to meet common challenges while seeking even more avenues of cooperation.”
“We must also recognize that many Indo-Pacific nations have limited alternatives when it comes to infrastructure investment programs and financing schemes, which often fail to promote jobs or prosperity for the people they claim to help,” Tillerson said. “It’s time to expand transparent, high-standard regional lending mechanisms, tools that will actually help nations instead of saddle them with mounting debt.”
Tillerson told reporters that during the East Asia ministerial summit in August that the US had started “a quiet conversation with others about what they were experiencing, what they need.”
However, he also admitted Washington’s constraints. “We will not be able to compete with the kind of terms that China offers,” said Tillerson. “But countries have to decide, what are they willing to pay to secure their sovereignty and their future control of their economies? And we’ve had those discussions with them as well.”
China’s resources are nowhere near as limited as the US and its allies, says Yvonne Chiu from the University of Hong Kong.
“Right now, it can play on multiple fronts at once,” Chiu notes. “And they take a very long view. If you’re a power like the US, you’re really far away. That distance is going to limit how much attention you can pay to the region. The US has to pick and choose and it’s chosen East Asia. So, unless something really major happens, that’s probably where their attention is going to stay.”
A Chinese worker at the construction site of a Chinese-funded $1.4 billion reclamation project in Colombo, Sri Lanka in October 2017.
As 2017 wrapped up, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua published a dispatch from Colombo, describing how the Hambantota port was “now racing along a developmental fast-track.”
Chinese and Sri Lankan workers were building a highway north of the port, along with a bridge, and the Chinese Harbor Engineering Company is negotiating with the Sri Lankan government to develop a Logistics Zone that will include a natural gas power plant and refineries, the agency reported.
On the first day of the new year, the Chinese flag flew beside Sri Lanka’s at the port for the first time ever.
The Chinese Harbor Engineering Company began 2018 with a $1 billion investment to build three 60-story office towers in Colombo.
Rather than resist getting into further debt, Sri Lanka’s government appears to be making more deals with China that it will may yet struggle to pay back.
RED CHINA’S DOCTRINE OF NEOCOLONIALISM
Red China signed a deal with Sri Lanka to use Hambantota Port in pursuit of her doctrine of Neocolonialism. World must pay attention to China’s aggression in Tibet if it wants to resist, contain, engage, oppose, and confront China’s Neocolonialism threatening Freedom, Democracy, Peace, and Harmony in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
SRI LANKA SIGNS HAMBANTOTA PORT DEAL WITH CHINA
Billion-dollar agreement reached despite trade union opposition and protests over security fears, including from India.
29 Jul 2017 09:54 GMT
Sri Lanka is selling a 70 percent stake to China Merchants Ports Holdings for $1.12bn [Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP]
Sri Lanka has signed a $1.12bn agreement with a state-run Chinese firm to operate a port in the southeast of the country, despite security concerns and protests from trade unions.
According to the long-delayed deal reached in the capital Colombo on Saturday, Sri Lanka Ports Authority agreed to sell a 70 percent stake in the Hambantota port to China Merchants Ports Holdings.
The Chinese firm will run the workings of the newly constructed port over a 99-year lease.
The Cabinet approved the agreement on Tuesday, almost six months after the framework deal was signed.
Public anger and protests had delayed the signing.
Demonstrators rallied against the loss of land and concerns that the port could be used by the Chinese military.
Trade unions earlier in the week staged a strike against the deal, temporarily crippling fuel distribution on the island.
They fear the deal gives an advantage to China in the bunkering business, which provides fuel to ships, as the port is located on a key international shipping lane between Europe and Asia.
Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the “One Belt, One Road” project in May, pledging tens of billions of dollars to build ports, highways and power grids in about 60 different countries, linking China to much of Asia, Europe and Africa.
Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez, reporting from Colombo, said the Hambantota port located in a strategic position.
“For China to be able to get its foot in, and essentially take over this port, is considered quite an important part of its plan particularly with the new Silk Road initiative,” she said.
Sri Lanka’s government has dismissed the unions’ concerns, saying that the agreement would prove profitable and will help repay loans taken on to build the port.
India voices concern
The government argues that the port has been underused since its opening in 2010. The construction cost more than $361m, with the Export-Import Bank of China providing a large chunk of financing.
Ports Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told journalists that Sri Lanka “cannot afford to continue to pay” back the loans without better returns at the port.
Only 44 ships have been handled by the Hambantota port since 2015, making it an unprofitable venture, DPA news agency reported.
Neighboring India has also voiced concerns that China could use the deep-sea port in the Indian Ocean to dock military vessels.
Sri Lanka has assured India that there are no security issues over the port, which it says will only be used for commercial purposes.
“No naval ship, including Chinese vessels, can call over at the Hambantota Port without our permission,” Samarasinghe said.
Al Jazeera’s Fernandez said: “The Sri Lankan government has sought to allay fears from both its neighbors and the people in the region that this is a commercial agreement which will help Sri Lanka on its road back to recovery from debt servicing.”
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies