Jonathan E. Hillman, 26 August 2021, whose title runs thus: “The Secret History of Hambantota” …. Starts his write up “If Chinese loans were cigarettes, Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port would be the cancerous lung on the warning label. Some observers have pointed to the underperforming port and alleged that China is using “debt trap diplomacy,” This statement reflects Hillman’s intention of using Hambantota port to discredit China. Taking a similar line Fair Dinkum in his “American Schemes of Global Bifurcation behind Hillman’s story on Hambantota Port” is critical of the messenger rather than being responsive to the message.+++
Lakshman Gunasekara … with highlights being the intrusion of The Editor, Thuppahi
I recall reading both these articles, or at least parts of these articles just a few weeks ago sent by you.
1) China:- I am an admirer of China (just as much as I am an even bigger admirer of India, simply because of cultural and geographical affinity) and I am specifically an admirer of China’s role in the world today as a relatively civilised and certainly civilisational (in terms of Difference) counter to the old, beginning-to-fade Western imperialism. This is not to say that I do not have problems with China’s internal, unnecessarily repressive, political system. While I am a long-time Communist and I continue to watch with interest the successes and failure of the single-party system (the Communist Party is not at all the typical western-liberal-style ‘political party’), I am surprised at the lack of more dedicated practice of electoral politics within that one-party system, especially at the higher levels of national structures. Theoretically, I prefer the Communist one-party state than the bourgeois-liberal multiparty competitive electoral system as the best way toward greater democracy and consolidating social democracy.
To the extent that we can make any confident prophesies about world affairs in this very fragile current context, it is reasonable to predict that (a) global political, military, economic and ideological competition between China and the US is going to continue to loom large and (b) Sri Lanka, for a range of historical and geographical reasons, is likely to remain caught up in that competition. We can expect to see many more partisan spats, like those between Jonathan Hillman and Fair Dinkum in relation to the Hambantota Port, counterposing good/wicked China against wicked/good US. Some claims will be right, and some wrong. My guess is that in 10 years or so, the two combatants will earn similar levels of positive and negative points.
Jehan Perera, in The Island, 3 August 2021, with this title“Restoring reconciliation process cannot be piecemeal”
The government is making a resolute effort to turn Sri Lanka around and put it in the direction of rapid economic development. The systematic manner in which it has been conducting the Covid vaccinations has earned recognition by WHO as well as the international community. The value of the military in getting things done on a large scale with minimum of delay has been manifested in the partnership that they have struck with the health authorities. The memory is fading of how some of the government leaders dabbled in alchemy and the spirit world to find an antidote to the COVID virus, despite being vested with the responsibility to strengthen the health of the country’s people. There is also increased space being given to civil society to engage in protests, such as the protracted teachers’ strike and the agitation against the expanding mandate of the Kotelawala Defence University.
The conflict with the terrorist LTTE dragged on for over two decades causing widespread death and destruction with no obvious end in sight. The Government, after the election of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, recognised, perhaps for the first time, that carefully managing the media, both domestic and international, was an important factor if this endless struggle were to be ended successfully. President Rajapaksa, a consummate politician, accepted the profound value of a non-antagonistic media and carefully orchestrated initiatives to secure this objective. As the world knows, the bloody conflict was eventually ended on the banks of the Nanthikadal Lagoon on May 18, 2009, through the colossal efforts and sacrifices of the security forces.
Tony Birtley of Al Jazeera at the warfront in late 2008 and Ranil Wijayapala in ??
“It’s not just the pandemic: Why Sri Lanka’s economy is in crisis | Counting the Cost” …. 31 Jult 2021
Sri Lanka’s finances are in a precarious state, but the economy was already in trouble before the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2005 and 2015, Colombo borrowed billions from China, accumulating a mountain of debt. It was forced to hand over a port to a Chinese company after failing to keep up with payments. But Beijing is making more loans. Asia Frontier Capital’s Ruchir Desai explains why China and India are keen to help Colombo out. Elsewhere, crisis-hit Lebanon has its third prime minister in 12 months. Diana Menhem, managing director of civic organisation Kulluna Irada, tells us little will change with the same politicians in power. – Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe – Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish – Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera – Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/
Robert Kaplan is a well-connected Jewish American author and journalist. As one he travels widely and chose to visit Sri Lanka as a newshound in mid-2009 just after the Sri Lankan government forces had vanquished the Tamil Tiger forces and rescued about 280-290,000 Tamil ‘civilians’ who had been deployed as a defensive barrier and bargaining chip for about 15-17 months by the LTTE as they, the Tigers, were forced into a west-to-east retreat in the northern Vanni.
Situation Map on 23rd December 2008 & then on 8th March 2009
US Official Robert Blake with Reps of Tamil Diaspora
EMAIL NOTE from Gamage, 1 July 2021: Cooperation between some U.S. State Department officials and members of the Tamil Diaspora has been truly extraordinary. The U.S. Embassy in Colombo was very open in its reporting to Washington that the Tamil Diaspora in the U.S. had long “been a source of funding and hard-line support for the LTTE.” At the same time, two months before the defeat of the LTTE, U.S. Ambassador to Colombo Robert Blake was recommending that the USG strengthen its official dialogue with several U.S.-based Diaspora organizations with which the embassy had established a rapport through “almost daily” email communications. In a cable on March 19, 2009, the embassy argued that:
“Recognizing the difficulty of engagement, Post recommends a redoubled effort to reach out to Tamil groups in the U.S. A number of organizations, including Tamils for Justice, Tamils for Obama, and PEARL, remain active politically, and opportunities to interact with them should be sought. . .” Ambassador would welcome opportunities, either in combination with senior State Department officials or just with Colombo diplomatic Mission staff, to meet and converse with the U.S.-based Diaspora through DVD. Such meetings would allow U.S. Embassy to brief the groups on USG efforts to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of the civilian population in the safe zone and U.S. actions urging the government to offer credible political proposals for lasting peace.
Chandre Dharmawardana, whose preferred title is “Political Rhetoric, or Sounding the Death Knell of Sri Lanka’s Agriculture?”
A quote attributed to the Greek play write Euripides says that “ Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad”. Reading the news from Sri Lanka, one can only wonder if a prescient Euripides had Lanka’s successive rulers since 1970 in mind.
Meera Srinivasan, in The Hindu, 29 April 2021, where the title reads thus: “Sri Lanka follows an independent foreign policy, will never bend to outside pressures, Chinese media quoted Mr. Rajapaksa”
Sri Lanka has prioritised developing relations with China and “firmly supports” China’s positions on issues concerning its core interests, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defence Wei Fenghe, according to Chinese state media.
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.