A Memo from “Fair Dinkum” to Michael Roberts, 21 September 2021 ….with highlighting imposed by The Editor, ThppHI Nmwly, Michael
I was glancing at some of the comments on the latest Hambantota piece. I am mystified as to why some Sri Lankans are so hostile to Chinese investment.
To touch on one specific point: One person who posted a message could only highlight three instances of Chinese interventions. In truth, two of those were not intervention; namely, the 1962 India conflict and China-Vietnam conflict. India had provoked China in 1962. China decided to send a message to India. They crossed the border into Indian territory and seized 45,000 sq km of land, but then suddenly withdrew. In other words, China never intended to take control but simply wanted to show India they could do so if provoked. It’s a Chinese strategy. These two were small conflicts and were not about taking control of India or Vietnam. So, I’m afraid these are not good examples to use against China. By contrast the US has overthrown over 72 governments, were implicated in the deaths of millions in Indonesia in the 1960s, as one example, but similar patterns can be found in the other 72.
The momentous issues arising from the development of Hambantota port and its associated ancillaries has now generated some commentary from Sri Lankan patriots on the sidelines …. And, in some cases, far afield in UK and Australia. It is a measure of the common sense and intelligence reposing in personnel we could frame as “Citizens Perera or Silva” that these comments have been deemed worthy of airing in the pages of Thuppahi. While Michael Obeyesekerehappens to be related to one of my brothers-in-law (now deceased),Gus Mathews is a recent email contact (via the brothers Rajeewa — alas no more with us–and Sanjeewa Jayaweera) and Prithi Perera is a total stranger…. A Note from The Editor, Thuppahi, 20 Septmber 2021
Thuppahi is pleased to mark its intense interest in the Hambantota Port Project by listing its recent entries from a wide spectrum of authors located in Australia, England, USA and Sri Lanka. The bibliographies within these essays will also serve up further material.
When Sir Stamford Raffles arrived in Singapore in 1819, the British set about creating the Port of Singapore. In time, with much hard work, the port became successful. In the 1960s, the Singapore government set about further expansions of its ports along the south of the island, with five additional gateways operating by the 1990s. It is now one of the biggest and busiest collection of ports in the world. Having visited these ports over the years, the scale of operations is extraordinary. The success of Singapore Ports was built up over time. It didn’t come easily or immediately. The same with the Piraeus Port in Greece, although it became successful and profitable quickly.
Map composed by the geographers Percy Silva and Kusuma Gunawardena in consultation with Michael Roberts …. and presented on page 329 of the book People Inbetween. The Burghers and the Middle Class in the Transformatrions witihin Sri Lanka, 1790s-1960s, Ratmalana, Sarvodaya Publishers, 1989, p. 325. The Map depicts migration flows.
Osman Samiuddin & Grish Ts & Shiva Jayaraman, in The Cricket Monthly, 26 March 2021, where the title reads: “”Who played how much”
It began with the news that England’s players would not be shaking hands in Sri Lanka. It escalated so rapidly that 12 days later, soon after the Quetta Gladiators thumped the Karachi Kings, all cricket around the world ground to a halt. For 114 days there was no elite-level cricket (but thank you nonetheless, Vanuatu and the Vincy T10 league). Though it now feels as if the calendar never stopped, March 15, 2021 marked a year from the day of that last PSL game, a year unlike most of us have witnessed.
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.+++
Deborah Brautigam & Meg Rithmire, in The Atlantic, 6 February 2021, where the title is “The Chinese ‘Debt Trap’ Is a Myth “
The narrative wrongfully portrays both Beijing and the developing countries it deals with.China, we are told, inveigles poorer countries into taking out loan after loan to build expensive infrastructure that they can’t afford and that will yield few benefits, all with the end goal of Beijing eventually taking control of these assets from its struggling borrowers. As states around the world pile on debt to combat the coronavirus pandemic and bolster flagging economies, fears of such possible seizures have onlyamplified.
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.
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.