Malinda Demolishes Teplitz’s Gunboat Diplomacy

Malinda Seneviratne, in DailyMirror, 8 October 2020, where the title runsGive Ambassador Teplitz a dictionary, please!”

It is not hard to understand US Ambassador Alaina B Teplitz’ angst. China, along with Japan, owns the debt of her country, the United States of America. China, according to the US narrative, has re-colonized Africa without a single shot being fired. China, again according to pro-USA narrators, created the deadly COVID-19 and controlled it while the USA was being strangled by it. The USA was essentially sleeping while China laid out its Belt and Road Initiative. When the USA (and India) got wise to the ‘String of Pearls’, things had moved so far that only damage-control was possible; hence the hastily put together ‘Quad’ comprising the USA, India, Japan and Australia with the objective of ‘stopping China’ in the Into-Pacific region. 


No wonder Teplitz is upset!   
It can’t be just nationalist ill-will that made Teplitz rant and rave against China in an interview with the Daily Mirror recently. She’s the local representative of the US government, a citizen of a country that operates like a global thug but is in reduced and declining circumstances, articulating country-interest. She could have been more diplomatic but sometimes when reason is trumped by emotion, niceties are forgotten. She is also upset that she has not been able to get her pet project, the MCC Compact, off the ground, possibly compromising career advancement prospects. However, more than all this, what’s probably most bothersome is the fact that China’s footprint in Sri Lanka is way larger than that of the USA.   
Yes, the USA itself is upset. So much so that it openly violated WTO rules (which was pushed mainly by the USA in efforts that included arm-twisting representations of countries like Sri Lanka in the infamous ‘green rooms’ way back in 1993 when the GATT was buried and the WTO birthed in its place), in imposing sanctions on Chinese companies. If Washington is pained, it is not surprising that Washington’s official mouthpiece has an articulation problem.   
‘Sri Lanka should engage with China in ways that protect its sovereignty,’ she’s said. Now this is an Oh-My-God-moment. The condescension! The sheer arrogance! How viceroy-like! And to talk of sovereignty, of all things!   
First of all, what Sri Lanka does with any country is Sri Lanka’s business. Many Sri Lankan governments have danced to the Washington-tune and this has not pleased other countries (India for example during the J.R. Jayewardene regime), but their representatives didn’t say ‘hey, your sovereignty is at stake, dude!’ Countries do business. It’s bucks or politics or both. Profits and strategic edge. The world is not flat and it is not easy for a country like Sri Lanka to walk the slant. There’s give and take and typically more give than take. True in the case of China, true for other countries too, India and the USA included. Not a happy situation, but then again we don’t live in a convenient world.   
The USA does business. Just like the British in another era. The Accelerated Mahaweli Development Project saw many Western countries offering financial assistance. The main contractors in all these projects were companies based in the relevant donor nation. Well, that’s what China is doing in Sri Lanka. Aid, whether it is a loan or called a gift, comes with conditions. The political economy of development assistance benefits donors more than the beneficiaries.   
It’s like a corporate giving an unemployed person a choice: ‘you could go without an income or work for peanuts and help me make bucks; it’s a gift, dude, and I am not forcing you to take it.’ 

Teplitz admits that conditions exist and defends them too, even as she cries ‘foul’ over conditions she claims have been imposed by China. ‘Preconditions are not bad things, if they secure the integrity of the transaction for all parties involved. If the lack of such preconditions creates potential infringement on Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, or otherwise mortgages its future, would it not be in the country’s best interest to ensure preconditions exist?’   
Well, there are conditions that come in black and white and conditions that are whispered or interjected parenthetically. Reference to machinations internationally are not uncommon in the USA’s diplomatic moves in Sri Lanka. Reference to trade-relations is also common. It’s saying-without-saying: ‘do this or else.’ Of course mindless or sycophantic politicians and officials don’t really help Sri Lanka’s cause. Sometimes, the USA openly helps ‘friendly’ groups to power (ref: the elections in 2015). So then we would see ‘independent leaders of a sovereign nation freely contracting with the USA.’   

And then we have the sovereignty-loving USA bombing sovereign countries to the middle ages. We have sovereignty-fixated USA funding, arming and training terrorists. We have democracy-drugged USA supporting monarchs, tyrants and military juntas violently and brutally suppressing pro-democracy movements in countries all over the world. It’s pick and choose foreign policy where the pickings overwhelming trump the lovely rhetoric.   
The Chinese Embassy has responded, gloves off, with some unsolicited advice:   ‘While it’s always not surprising to see the US interfere into a sovereign country’s internal affairs, the general public is still astonished to witness [the] despicable attempt to manipulate others’ diplomatic relations.’   

China couldn’t let her rant go unanswered, obviously, and yet, China fell short in the trite response. Perhaps if the Daily Mirror interviews Teplitz’ Chinese counterpart, a more comprehensive answer could be obtained. Perhaps Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan could tell Teplitz and the people of Sri Lanka about loans/grants offered and the relevant terms including interest rates. Perhaps he could compare and contrast.   

Teplitz talks about transparency and accountability, though the USA is certainly far from transparent (remember non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) and hasn’t accounted for all the destruction wrecked on the planet through wars and business. Cheng Xueyuan can do better, can’t he? He could call out Teplitz and explain ‘China’ to her (and to Sri Lankans who may have doubts about Sino-Lanka relations). 

Meanwhile Alaina B Teplitz could check the American Heritage Dictionary (the American Centre should have one) and check the meaning of ‘Sovereignty’. And while at it, check the meanings of diplomacy and duplicity, complicity, arrogance and bewilderment. ‘Angst’ too.


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12 responses to “Malinda Demolishes Teplitz’s Gunboat Diplomacy

  1. Canton Wickramasinghe


    The roving pen of Malinda (roving, that is, towards whoever is the highest bidder) has now swung to China. I wonder how much they pay him to spew this tripe? Did he get bullied that badly during his purported year at Harvard?

    • Thank you Mr Wikramasinghe, for your pertinent comment and for your aptly cynical question. In response, here are my thoughts.

      Surely this person is not a Harvard alumnus. But even if he spent a year at Harvard in some equivalent of a basket-weaving course for charity cases, it is evident he did not get into that prestigious, ivy-league institution under his own steam. His lousy grammar, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, clumsy contractions, general incoherence, awkward locutions, lack of rigor, lack of knowledge, lack of logic, demonstrated ignorance of correct English orthography, and indeed of good journalism, attest to the fact that despite being hired as a journalist by the Daily Mirror, he could never by any legitimate means have earned a position in any decent newspaper, let alone in an ivy league school. So yes, as a backward student he might well have been bullied or subtly put down at Harvard by his better educated peers.

      I find it interesting that among the recognized bribes and inducements offered by economic plenipotentiaries to corrupt officials, are prestigious scholarships for their dependents. It is unlikely that the CCP would offer as bait a scholarship to a Chinese university – for who would want it! But Harvard – why, that’s another question.

      A Harvard scholarship would certainly have had the potential to get any third-class, third world student well over his little head. It is highly unlikely that third-raters like Malinga would be able to keep up with even the average Harvard student.

      Inferior candidates who cheat to be admitted via corrupt means and discriminatory policies (such as affirmative action) tend to turn nasty when their scholastic inferiority and inadequacy causes them to fall behind and makes it impossible for them to cope on their own. They soon become disaffected and angry and lash out wildly in their humiliation and impotent fury.

      Hence this damp squib attack of US Ambassador Teplitz. Another possible reason for this “roving pen”could be that as a lackey of the SL government Malinga was forced to pay off the debt to his political masters by being a lickspittle and journalistic pawn, to kiss the Chinese boot and bare his toothless gums at the US Ambassador. If SL does not really have a free press, the Daily Mirror too might have been forced to hire an incompetent government plant in spite of his journalistic ineptitude.

      Ms. Teplitz’s grasp and use of the term ’sovereignty’ is absolutely impeccable in comparison with Malinga’s posturing, his stale-curry English and his journalistic bombast. It is clear that he does not know the meaning of the string of words which in his ignorant arrogance he directs Ambassador Teplitz to look up in the dictionary.

      Is this poor man so unconscious of the irony of the term “gunboat diplomacy” with regard to the US when the Chinese are the de factor owners of the Hambantota port? It is my understanding that if and when she used the word ‘sovereignty’ in relation to S.L, Ambassador Teplitz was being diplomatic. I think it doubtful that any real or potential vassal of China could legitimately claim the right to be a sovereign entity. Far from demolishing Ambassador Teplitz, I doubt Malinga could even demolish a plate of ‘pilun pittu’.

      He might find it helpful to read this simplified Wiki definition of sovereignty:

      The quality or state of being sovereign, or of having supreme power or authority: supreme and independent power or authority in government as possessed or claimed by a state or community: rightful status, independence, or prerogative: supreme power or authority, supremacy, dominion, autonomy, independence or self-rule. Other words with similar meanings are: autonomy, jurisdiction and independence.

      So give Malinga a rigorous course in remedial English writing, please!
      And also give him a simple dictionary – and a course in remedial journalism.

  2. This unintentionally hilarious and utterly scurrilous piece of folderol, written in funky English, had me convulsed with laughter! It put me in mind of that apt old saw about the slowly boiled frog.

    It would seem that some clever “global thug” has given the witless writer of this piece Shaken Baby Syndrome – or is it Shaken Froggie Syndrome? Then again, perhaps he has been afflicted with kind of dementia which is sometimes the regrettable sequel of a certain Chinese virus.

    But, let me dilate in a less humorous vein.

    It is obvious that this person has never heard of the phenom known as the Economic Hit-Man, or the mission that such a professional is entrusted with executing. So I will remedy this deficiency by offering a short explanation.

    Here is how it works. A man with a suitcase full of dollars approaches the corrupt leader of a poor but resource positive country, and makes him an offer the corrupt leader can’t refuse.

    The offer comes in two parts. The first is an enormous untraceable bribe to the corrupt official, and the second is the promise of an astronomically large loan to the country. The principle feature of this loan is that it has a hidden collateral and an asymptotically minuscule chance of ever being repaid. The sugar on top is that the loan comes with promises of increased GDP for the country and prosperity for the citizens.

    If the leader accepts the offer all goes according to plan. If he refuses, it is likely that in a short time, oops! the leader will be in a fatal car, plane, or helicopter crash.

    You may draw your own conclusions if the corrupt leader goes on to have a prosperous future.

    But, surprise, surprise, the the loan made to the country does not turn out to improve the lot of citizen underclass or even its middle class. It goes into a bloated infrastructure project which is controlled by the investor. The corrupt leader and his cronies get to divvy up the suitcase full of dollars.

    Has any of this happened in SL? “Of course not” you say? Or “Yes, but we are happy to accept our place as vassals and enrich our masters as long as we are paid a small wage”? Do you presume to speak for all the little folk whose labor will be harshly exploited? Do you applaud the fact that the future of your country has been sold for filthy lucre? Thirty pieces of silver or a mess of pottage would seem to be a less shameful price for a traitor or a fool. Shame on you.

    The device of the Economic Hit-Man is a decades old business model used by globalist bankers and corporations. It is skillfully executed by corrupt branches of the government such as the NSA, CIA and their ruthless international counterparts – and that odious “global thug” the CCP.

    What happens to a debtor country is the same thing that happens to any fool who takes out a home-loan or mortgage which he has no chance of repaying. Keep your envious eye focused on the African countries so afflicted and observe what happens to them.

    And what of the promised increased GDP? Of course it increases, it is, after all, just an average. But the great majority of the accrued profits go directly into the roomy pockets of a few corrupt kleptocrats.

    And by the way, the miss-spelling of the writer’s name (Malinga!) in the subject line of this article, strikes me as being singularly and phonetically apposite.

  3. Michael Patrick O'Leary


    Are you safely back in Adelaide now, avoiding our Brandix clusterfuck?

    When I first saw this in my in-box, I ignored it because I thought it was about cricket, which, I am afraid, does not interest me in the slightest.
    Now I see that you mean ‘Malinda’ not ‘Malinga’.

    I fail to see how Canton Wivkramasinghe’s comment can be described as ‘pertinent’ by any intelligent person. It is just a dull-witted, mean-spirited snark. “Did he get bullied that badly during his purported year at Harvard?” WTF is that supposed to mean? “I wonder how much they pay him to spew this tripe? “ Not very much, I would say. How about debating in an adult fashion the issues the writer raises?

    I am not a great fan of Malinda’s writing style. Sadly, most Sri Lankan columnists favour style over substance and find it impossible to take the reader on a simple journey from A to B in lucid prose. Try reading Mahindapala, Jayatilleka, Abeynayake, Emil van der Ponderous without ending up confused and with a headache. Malinda is better than usual in this article. Unfortunately, Mr Inkblot falls into the same trap of getting carried away with the brilliance of his own prose without thinking about the reader.

    Inkblot, you engage in a rambling ad hominem attack in which you avoid making substantive arguments but rely on scurrilous slanders.

    Speaking as a recovering pedant, I can tell you that pedants often get hoist with their own petard. I know I do. Before scoffing at Malinda’s vocabulary perhaps you should check your own text before pressing send. “Is this poor man so unconscious of the irony of the term ‘gunboat diplomacy’ with regard to the US when the Chinese are the de factor owners of the Hambantota port?” That should be “de facto”.

    You come across as an awful smart-arse, Inkblot. A pompous, pretentious prick. It is not an attractive look. I see you use the term “solitary vice”. In England, that is the hobby of the wanker.

  4. Oh dear, Mr O Leary! Your comment is worthy of a notorious bovine Chicagoan – perhaps a distant relative of yours? I almost feel tempted to say “liar, liar, pants on fire”!

    So …. if you do know what an ad hominem attack means and pretend to deplore it, why then have you so lavishly piled it on here? Could it be you do not really know the meaning of that term?

    I do know how to spell ‘de facto’. That was a typographical error, but I ask, did you not read your comment before you hit send? Is that why you missed your own spelling error? See if you can catch it now will you?

    It seems you are guilty of the very sins you impute to me. Name-calling by any other name Mr, O Leary, and rambling, and failure to check text, just to name a couple more.

    If you don’t see the pertinence in Mr Wikramasinghe’s (by now you do know you misspelled his name don’t you?) comment you can hardly claim to be even a ‘recovering’ pedant. His comment was clear as clear can be, but only if one is able to understand something that is implied.

    Tut, tut, Mr O’Leary, were you dreaming or hallucinating, abusing yourself or just confabulating when you quoted me as saying “I wonder how much they pay him to spew this tripe”? – And where, pray tell, did you ‘see’ me use the term “solitary vice”? Your use of quotation marks does mean you were quoting me – right? Or do self-described recovering pedants like you make up your own rules of punctuation.”

    And I am so sorry you don’t know the meaning of “substantive.” If you did, you might have recognized a great number of points in my comment that exactly fit that description.

    Please put down your crack pipe, Mr O’ Leary, and try a little harder to write better and improve your reading comprehension. Talk about being hoist with your own petard! Your solecisms simply overfloweth.

    However, I do thank you for calling my prose “brilliant.” Though your opinion is of no value or consequence to me whatever, I must conclude that you are being sincere. If you had the least idea of what consists of irony, or even perhaps the meaning of that word, you would not be so remiss as to project your own flaws and failures (remember ad hominem?) on me.

    And please do give me examples of my “scurrilous slanders” and “rambling”. I look forward to seeing you try to back up your fanciful accusations.

    Also, please don’t forget to point out where you ‘saw’ the two imaginary quotes you ascribe to me, okey dokey Smokey?

    • Mr INKBRAIN: ” This line of ad hominem attack is not only extreme but quite childish. It is not the only occasion on which you have indulged in your verbose polemics. I am permitting this entry so that READERS can assess your mode of writing –repeat offences in fact — and take note of the reasons WHY I will not permit you to pen such abusive assessments HEREAFTER…. Eespecially asthe practice is pursued under the cover of a pseudonym.

    • Michael Patrick O'Leary

      Don’t be childish.

    • Michael Patrick O'Leary

      It is no wonder you are solitary. I can’t imagine anyone would be able to tolerate your arrogance. How do people like you in Denver, Colorado? Do you have any friends? Do you have a girl friend? A boy friend? Perhaps an imaginary friend? Your imaginary friend would probably dump you.

      “The things I most like to think about are poetry, music, and writing. I find poetry in particular to be an important focus of my attention because true poetry, in my opinion, besides requiring highly refined and evolved sensibilities, makes the very highest possible demands on our grasp of language.

      My thinking here is that if we can express our thoughts and insights with both truth and art, our words will acquire the power to take us deep into the realms where what is mystical and what is real are effortlessly intertwined.

      With few exceptions, the posts you will find here are almost guaranteed to be a challenging read. So if you are looking for an hors d’oeuvre or an appetizer, you probably need to visit another restaurant. I have a strong allergy to the inane and the banal, and the things I consider worth writing about are things which have demanded serious thought from me, and given rise to new insights.

      This might of course deter many people, but I would not have it any other way. The joy of thinking can be a solitary vice – or virtue – depending on one’s view, but the sharing of thoughts can be a real pleasure, particularly if one’s views are understood, and one’s labours are appreciated.

      I do not write with the spectre of “the reader over my shoulder,” to borrow a phrase from Robert Graves, but solitary as I am, I appreciate the pleasure of encountering a reader who would wish to share the page with me.”

      You sound like a looney.

  5. Michael Patrick O'Leary

    “If you don’t see the pertinence in Mr Wikramasinghe’s (by now you do know you misspelled his name don’t you?)” You do know that you have misspelled his name too?

    “Tut, tut, Mr O’Leary, were you dreaming or hallucinating, abusing yourself or just confabulating when you quoted me as saying “I wonder how much they pay him to spew this tripe”? ” I did not quote you, I quoted Wicky.

    I did not say your prose was brilliant, i said you thought it was.Your prose is hysterical, overblown and infantile.You seem like a mental case.

    The term ‘solitary vice’ came from your own blog.

    You present yourself as a hissy, prissy teenage girl with hormonal problems. Get a life.

  6. I am sorry if I have offended you. But I am surprised that you are not equally, if not more offended at Mr O’ Leary’s vulgarity, lies, and spurious accusations. I thought the shoe was on the other foot. However, I will desist, and bother you no more.

    • Michael Patrick O'Leary

      Michael, the Blot’s writing style and general demeanor are very similar to Emil van der Poorten’s . I wonder if they might be related? There is that same solipsism and misplaced confidence in their own importance. The same insulting tone towards just about everyone else. The same atrocious prose style. Good riddance to the Blot’s cliched and ponderous pomposity. BTW I wonder if the Blot was educated at Harvard?

  7. COMMENT from SIRI HEWA [A Computer Whiz] in SYDNEY, dated mid February 2021: “Wow, it seems some ancient colonials or colonial apologist are working overtime here. Understanding How Language Is Changing (Harvill Secker), which features, among other delights, a fascinating analysis of Tumbir punctuation. Malinda’s writing is precise and somehow some people cannot handle the truth. internet is producing an entire generation of would-be novelists, playwrights and screenwriters? Or are novels, plays and screenplays the wrong places to be looking anyway?

    MCC that defined by Jefferson and executed by US is no longer there and instead we have a new kind of imperial order from right wing nutters that sit on the presidency and their supporters.

    MCC does exactly the same thing as USAID and utilizes information from Freedom House (a purported CIA front group). The MCC was intended to make up for USAID’s apparent gap in political and economic “morality.” The MCC was portrayed as America’s conscience and will to enact a new world order and not just talk about it. The MCC conditioned all its aid on recipients’ nature and intentions in terms of democracy and free markets. The MCC would use data from Freedom House, the World Bank, and other outside institutions. Never before has a U.S. bureaucracy outsourced its primary judgment and decision-making authority to external organizations. The creation of the MCC also reflected a sizeable distaste for past U.S. policies and their apparent amorality.

    Don’t insult the great uni’s that are our final refuge..

    Most people help china’s progressive work so that billions will come out of poverty and that does not mean we all support China’s dreadful Communist Party.

    For all these China critics, I can say that all the extremely sensitive technology that was sold by Indians to China and the Chinese deployed them. The fact is that all major tech companies developments are in India and now you know where the blame lies. I tracked 2 major security leaks that started in India and ended up in China. In one NSA was involved.”

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