Ameer Ali’s essay of 6 June 2021 in the Colombo Telegraph [reproduced recently in Thuppahi ……… https://thuppahis.com/2021/10/24/betwixt-india-and-china-little-lanka/) suffers from three fatal flaws. First, there is a failure to identify his political affiliations and to show some understanding of how this might influence his opinions. Second, by failing to do so, he presents his claims and arguments as if these were absolute truths. Third, he fails to critically evaluate US, Indian and CBK interests and intentions. He presents a false representation of what is occurring in the world today in the context of US efforts to demonize China as “a threat” in an attempt to undermine its rise. He makes a dangerous recommendation as to how Sri Lanka should manage India and China interests by urging the government to join the US confrontation against China. He is clearly a cheerleader for CBK and the anti-Rajapakse crowd in Colombo.
In this response essay, I will unpack six claims made by Ameer to explain why each are blatantly false.
CLAIM 1. The signing of the Rubber-Rice Pact in 1952 [and] the opening of formal diplomatic relations between China and Sri Lanka 1957 was nothing more than ordinary.
The signing of the Rubber Rice Pact in 1952 was not a case of “nothing more than ordinary.” The US, UK and Australia were opposed to it and frowned on Sri Lanka’s growing relationship with China. However, from the perspective of Sri Lanka’s national interests, the Rubber Rice Pact was not just a saviour of the Ceylon rubber industry at the time; it was an historic moment in the nation’s history that marks the beginning of decolonialisation in Sri Lanka. That is extraordinary, not “ordinary.”
Few people may realize that countries have been recognizing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 1949 till today, over 70 years. When the UK tried to recognize the PRC in 1950, China refused to accept it. Western countries only began to recognize China after it was given a seat at the UN in 1971. Singapore didn’t recognize China until 1990. It is worth noting that when Portugal tried to return Macau to China in 1974 following the Carnation Revolution, organized by military officers (which triggered Portugal’s rapid withdrawal from its colonies), China refused to accept it, compelling Portugal to continue administering the territory until 20 December 1999 when sovereignty was returned to China. That says something about Chinese values.
CLAIM 2. That India’s security has always been threatened from her northern borders and that threat is kept alive today by China’s capture of Tibet and aiding Pakistan over anti-Indian resistance in Kashmir.
In fairness, one could put forward a case that India is threatening China’s security. That Tibet is part of China poses no threat to India, while the claim China is “aiding Pakistan over anti-Indian resistance in Kashmir” is blatantly false. Where is the evidence? It doesn’t exist. China has no interest in Kashmir. It is true that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has raised legitimate concerns about human rights abuses by the Indian government against Muslims in Kashmir, but China isn’t involved. It is an outrageous lie to suggest so.
CLAIM 3. That China poses a threat to the region.
China does not pose a threat to the region or to the world, and never has. There is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, it is the US and Australia that pose the greatest threat to the region by engineering a new cold war against China. The reasons why the US decided to launch a cold war against China was not because China poses a threat to the world, but rather, as an imperialist attempt to obtrude into two big areas in China which are Big Tech and finance. China is the only country in the world that can compete with American Big Tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter. China has created their own digital space and technologies and developed conglomerates which can compete with US Big Tech. But the Trump administration doesn’t like competition, particularly when they are losing. So, the Trump administration decided they needed to take over large chunks of China’s Big Tech companies and to seize control of China’s digital technologies (particularly digital currencies, which will soon dominate the world), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their financial systems. The US want to take these over and run it themselves, and to squeeze China out. It is nasty. It is spiteful. It is theft. It is illegal, selfish, and wrong. If the true reasons for their war against China were better understood by people around the world, there would be zero support for the US war against China. To ensure countries join their insane war, the US launched a propaganda war in order to create a perception of China as “a threat”. But when you dig deeper to look for evidence as to why the US thinks China is a threat to the world, their case falls apart. As the wise Red Indian chief said, “White man speaks with forked tongue”.
CLAIM 4. That Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is warning world leaders to act in removing China’s rising threat to the region.
Ameer was unwise to draw on a statement purporting to come from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Morrison is as nutty as a fruitcake. He is ideologically promiscuous to the point of being a schizophrenic. While it is widely thought he made such claims, to be fair to him, I don’t think he called on the world to “remove China’s rising threat to the region.” He has also rejected that he did so. He avoids using the word “China” in his speeches, but plays smoke and mirrors games by using his subordinate ministers who have repeatedly used the privilege of parliament to wrongfully label the Chinese government as “Nazis” in order to ferment in the Australian people a deep psychological and twisted hatred of China so as to gain their support for a war against China. Like Trump and Biden, Morrison is just another “white man who speaks with a forked tongue” because one day he can be calling for war against China, and the next day, he will be denying it. He said Australia would not take sides in the US-China conflict but did precisely that by siding with the US in the strongest terms of any country. He affirmed Quad is a security alliance with the Malabar naval exercises in 2020 but has recently said Quad is not a security alliance. He has declared: “The world must contain China”, but on another day he says: “We are not trying to contain China.” And in double forked tongue language, he recently said there may even be a place in Quad for China, which is clearly ridiculous. China needs Quad like men need syphilis.
Another insidious aspect of the claim are the words “removing China’s rising threat to the region” which assumes that China is a rising threat without credible evidence to prove it. In this context, the word “removing” is an act of war. This notion of China being a threat to the world is the result of a highly sophisticated anti-China propaganda campaign being mounted by the US and Australia.
We must remember that all of this plays into the “Yellow Peril” syndrome with images of “Oriental Despots” which still linger deep in the Australian psyche. Economic arguments used to justify Asia’s importance to Australia have not diminished suspicion that engagement with Asia poses a direct threat to Australian values and identity.
CLAIM 5. Post-war Sri Lanka has turned into a contestable terrain for a new Great Game played chiefly between two regional powers, India and China.
This claim is nonsense. There is no Great Game of contestation between India and China taking place in Sri Lanka. This is wishful thinking on the part of India but also the upper middle class in Colombo who are trying to bring down the Rajapakse government. Dialogue is the Asian way, not confrontation and an intelligence war. That is the Western way. There was good dialogue between the three countries in the 1950s, and there still can be today, with intelligent leadership and not buying in to Western agendas. That is why Sri Lanka, India and China should work together in the same way as other Asian nations do, to bring peace and prosperity to their peoples, and not rely on Quad, the US and Australia who are trying to divide Asia. It is unfortunate that India and Australia are currently led by two of the nuttiest fruitcakes we have so far seen this century. I am sure most Australians would not share Modi’s racial beliefs.
Ameer Ali has fallen into the Great American Trap. As I said earlier, the US and Australia pose the greatest threat to Asia today. Ameer Ali is lost in the smoke and mirrors of the intelligence war being waged by the US and Australia against China. Whether he’s aware of it or not, he is a Western stooge, playing up imaginary threats, to try and knee-jerk the Sri Lankan government into taking sides with the US against China. And if ignorance is bliss, then it is not the current rulers of Sri Lanka who are ignorant, but Ameer for he is clearly out of his depth and out of touch with the intelligence war. He has fallen — hook, line, and sinker — into the Great American Trap. He fails to grasp the true reasons why the US launched this new cold war against China, why Morrison and Modi support it, and why all three countries have mounted such an insidious propaganda campaign to unfairly demonize China as “a threat” to the world. China is not our enemy. China is not a threat the world.
CLAIM 6. That Sri Lanka cannot escape from the US-China confrontation and is destined to become the main theatre of action for the new Great Game.
I totally reject this claim. Sri Lanka can and must escape from this dangerous US-China confrontation. It is wrong to claim Sri Lanka is destined to become the main theatre of action for the so-called new Great Game. Taiwan is more likely to be the main theatre of action. If Sri Lanka were to side with the US in a war against China, and if Sri Lanka were to become the main theatre of action; given that such a war would turn nuclear very fast then it appears Ameer is advocating for Sri Lanka to be annihilated in a nuclear war. Let’s pray the Rajapakse government is wise to reject such a stupid and outrageous contention and choose the right and wise path followed by Singapore and other Southeast Asian nations, which is, to not take sides; to not advocate for confrontation and war; and use to dialogue and good relations to ensure the region peaceful and prosperous. Australian politicians are not good at dialoguing in the Asian fashion. They are too opinionated with an overinflated sense of importance about their own values, often to the exclusion of every other value in life.
Ameer’s essay is an attempt to inject American policies on China into Sri Lanka’s foreign policies, and that means that he is aiding the Americans to one day seize control of Sri Lanka’s foreign policy – something the US have been wanting to do for a long time, thereby seizing control of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.
A final point needs to be made about Ameer’s reference to former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike’s claims that Sri Lanka has become a colony of China. I left this issue till the end because it is unrelated to the above. Ameer doesn’t explain the context of CBK’s statement, so I will do so here.
The first point to make is that CBK’s claim “Sri Lanka is a Chinese colony” is not a criticism of China. She is making this claim to smear the Rajapakse government, which she opposes. Unfortunately, such statements are designed to rouse anti-China feeling in Sri Lanka which is deeply unfair and unreasonable. She is also playing into the hands of Indian politics to support India’s attempts to reshape Sri Lanka’s foreign policy. Her claim about Sri Lanka being a colony of China were mainly picked up by the Indian media which is notoriously anti-China and an active participant in the intelligence war against China. Her claim that “every national asset is being handed over to China” is blatantly untrue, if not alarmist claptrap.
Her claim Sri Lanka is a colony of China is related to the Sri Lankan government cancellation of oil storage and port deals with India, including a lease on oil storage tanks in Trinco that had been awarded to the Indian Oil Company; and the cancellation of a deal with India and Japan to develop the eastern container terminal at Colombo Port. None of this constitutes a loss of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty to any country.
She also claims the cancellation of these deals occurred after trade unionists, left-leaning political parties, and members of the clergy opposed the deals with India. There is nothing wrong in this because that is how democracies work. Without a shred of evidence, she went on to claim: “If you look at their bank accounts – those in trade unions and others – how they become millionaires overnight – you have to wonder,” which is an attempt to smear the cancellation of the deals in corruption. But where is her evidence of these bank accounts and these new millionaires? None of her claims constitutes evidence of Sri Lanka being a colony of China. The claim is nonsense, and we should reject it.
Since leaving office, CBK has spent her time building up close personal interests in India, with many groups and entities, and it seems her personal and political interests have become intertwined in her public smearing of China. She has become an increasingly divisive person, not just divisive over China and India, but can be seen in those who love her and those who hate her. In the 1990s, as Sri Lanka’s leader, she proved to be a charismatic figure with a strong personality, but she also combined arrogance with naiveté.
Her fatal flaw, however, was an inability to get things done. She achieved very little during her presidency. She promised to end the war but failed to do so. She is responsible for some of the biggest failures in the war after her Defence Minister, Anuruddha Ratwatte – a man as nutty as Morrison – was responsible for massive blunders that resulted in the deaths of many gallant soldiers – mostly ordinary village folk, with few (if any) coming from the upper middle classes in Colombo.
While CBK makes accusation of corruption over the cancellation of the two deals, she herself has a history of corruption. In October 2008, the Supreme Court declared CBK was “corrupt” and had “betrayed the trust of the people,” after she abused her executive powers to facilitate a corrupt deal in transferring state lands meant for a public purpose to be turned into a golf course called Water’s Edge. The list of her flaws goes on and on…. She is in no position to take the moral high ground.
Her reasons for making the claim that Sri Lanka is a colony of China is to stir up trouble and to smear the Rajapakse government who she would like to see out of office. She has her own political leanings with an annoying habit of constantly anointing who she thinks should lead the country. Her basis for claiming Sri Lanka is a colony of China is total baloney.
AUTHOR’S Comment about his own position
“I am not a Sri Lankan. However, I have significant ties and experience there with certain communities and groups across the island. In recent years, my work has taken me to other regions of the world and for this reason, and also due to the pandemic, I have not been to Sri Lanka so often. I have no political position with regards to Sri Lankan politics, meaning I neither for or against the Yahapalana government or the Rajapakse government. I am an observer of human behaviour with a curiosity to understand how Sri Lankans rationalize the rise of China and the way in which some have succumbed to Western propaganda. As a self-respecting nation, Sri Lanka should not allow itself to be weaponized into a confrontation with China. It should not take sides – a view also adopted by the governments of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam.”
AN ADDENDUM from “Fair Dinkum” dated 28 June 2021 … actually a day or so earlier, but my wordpress system is proving recalcitrant and so I am shifting this Response to the main article.
Some good comments above [actually …. below: see dates] , but there is a failure to see things from the Chinese side in the comments.
The Chinese government has made mistakes. But the US and Australia have also made mistakes. All leaders make mistakes. On the matter of China being “authoritarian”, it is worth nothing that some months ago, the former Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo described China as a great democracy, and he explained why, but I won’t go into here. Yeo is not a communist. We can describe Xi as authoritarian and he probably is, but so too was Donald Trump. Morrison is more authoritarian than a consensus or democratic leader. Democracies can have authoritarian leaders too. We can all demonize Xi and love Donald Trump – and yet he Trump such a dangerous clown. But I find those sorts of discussions trivial and a distraction to the fundamental issue which is to address this call for a war against China and for Asian nations to not allow themselves to be weaponized into this war. Let’s leave words like “authoritarian” and “democracy” out in the hall with the umbrellas.
Concerning Hong Kong, China isn’t meddling, no more than the Australian Federal government has meddled into Victoria’s affairs by tearing up its Belt Road agreement. China is trying to protect its own sovereignty, including Hong Kong. When it comes to listing countries that have been meddling into Hong Kong; the US, UK and Australia are the major culprits.
Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 and for most of the past 25 years, it did not feel the need to introduce a national security law. What promoted the introduction of national security law was a group claiming to be representing “democracy” calling for the overthrow of the existing order in Hong Kong, and the succession of Hong Kong from China. The top leaders of this “democracy movement” met with Mike Pompeo, right-wing Senator Tom Cotton and were even seen in the White House. In calling for the overthrow of the Hong Kong government, during their demonstrations, which were frequently violent causing extensive damage and threats being made to the lives of police officers, many protestors came out on to the streets draped in the American flag, demanding Donald Trump intervene into Hong Kong, meaning “send in the troops to seize power”.
Pause for a moment to imagine a major protest movement going down the streets of Canberra, with protestors draped in the Chinese flag, calling for the overthrow of the Australian government at the same time that the protest leaders regularly met with Xi. In Hong Kong this protest movement was never a legitimate democratic movement, but a US intelligence operation designed to create chaos and instability in order to overthrow the Hong Kong government..
If the national security law had not been introduced, Hong Kong would fragment, which is what the US were seeking to do, and the purpose of US encroaching into Hong Kong in order to subvert its entire system was to gain a foothold to then meddle into China.
If the so called “democracy” people had not called for succession and overthrowing the government, the national security law would not have been necessary, and the movement could have still been there in Hong Kong, participating in governance, advocating for change. Siding with the Americans and sucking up to people like Pompeo and Cotton wasn’t a particularly intelligent thing to do.
I cannot understand why countries like the US, UK and Australia lecture Hong Kong for introducing a security law. How many national security laws have each of these countries passed into law since 2001? The answer may shock many, but the purpose of these laws, whether in Australia, the UK, US, or Hong Kong is the same. Why can the US and Australia pass national security laws, but not Hong Kong?
Concerning the point that many businessmen, academics, and politicians believed Western investment “in China would lead the country to liberalise” – yes, there was a miscalculation with regard to Xi, but the miscalculation was not him alone. A holistic approach is needed – not one that just focuses on Xi as the sole cause. The Trump administration’s imposition of sanctions on China and the launching a new cold war didn’t help and is also a miscalculation. Yes, Xi Jinping was the “Wild Card”, but so too was Donald Trump and his administration. Morrison is a “Wild Card” too; who would have foreseen that he was capable of totally sabotaging Australia-China relations. You cannot talk about Xi being the wild card without reference to Trump, and others. A holistic approach is needed to unravel what is occurring.
I believe China can still liberalise, but not in the current climate of a cold war. Xi is perhaps not the right leader for China and he is causing great harm by trying to turn China back into a Maoist revolutionary system. But I also see most Chinese people have become accustomed to a good lifestyle, wealth and education, and I don’t think it is possible to turn them back into poverty-stricken revolutionaries, which gives me cause for optimism.
*** EDITORIAL ADDITION:
The Rubber Rice deal was a major transformation because it was carried out by the right-wing DS Senanayake government with Minister RG Senanayake as point man. Within the world order of that era, it could be seen as revolutionary landmark. The Chinese Communist Party has long memories. Note, too, the visits to Sri Lanka by Chou En Lai in the SWRD Bandaranaike period that have been marked by Thuppahi.
JB Kelegama 2020 “A Landmark Trade Pact: Rubber-Rice Deal between Sri Lanka and China, 1952,”23 July 2020, https://thuppahis.com/2020/
Press Reader 2019 “66th Anniversary of the SL-China Rubber Rice Pact,” 6 January 2019, https://www.pressreader.
Tony Donaldson 2021 “Premier Zhou En Lai’s Visit to Ceylon, in 1957,” 25 April 2021, https://thuppahis.com/
Rohan de Soysa 2017 “Decolonisation via the Rubber Trade, 1946-54,” 23 February 2017, https://thuppahis.com/
Premier Zhou Enlai plants a sapling at Peradeniya Botanical Gardens to commemorate his visit – a tradition which all important visitors follow.
1 – For a detailed list of the countries that have recognized the PRC and when each did so, see https://en.wikipedia.org/
2 – Ameer doesn’t seem to know Modi is a lifelong member of RSS, which was founded in Nazi racial ideology and responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. He changed the Indian constitution in 2019 by revoking Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status and has redefined Indian-Muslims as second-class citizens. His regime is responsible for the imprisonment of over 70 journalists in just the 2020-21 period alone. According to one journalist in India who writes for international publications: “Journalism is totally being criminalised [in India]”. Five journalists were jailed in January 2021, while Reporters without Borders claimed three journalists were jailed for posting tweets about a video showing an elderly Muslim man being beaten in Ghaziabad by several Hindu nationalists who, shaved his beard and forced him to chant “Jai Shri Ram” – a Hindu chant that has become a rallying cry for religious extremists.
3 – Any CEO of a company who might happen to observe in a staff member the sort of ideological promiscuity as displayed by Morrison would probably remove the staff member from the job or persuade them to visit a psychiatrist.