Beijing: Sri Lanka is of great importance to China’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean as Pakistan cannot provide a strong foothold due to its “calamitous state” of security, state media here said today, underlining Beijing’s concern in this regard for the first time.
“Currently, the China-funded constructions in Pakistan cannot serve as a strong foothold for China, given the calamitous state of Pakistan’s security,” said one of the two articles in the state-run Global Times coinciding with the visit of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe here.
“Sri Lanka can be of great importance for China in the security strategic layout in Indian Ocean. It will not only provide security assurances for nearby navigation channels, but will also promote the 21st Maritime Silk Road,” it said.
India has not yet endorsed the MSR due to concerns over its potential for China to take dominant role in Indian Ocean.
Besides a foothold in Sri Lanka, China looks to gain access to the Indian Ocean through its USD 46 billion economic corridor with Pakistan connecting its Xinjiang with the strategic Gwadar port in Arabian Sea.
Gwadar location also provides an opening to the Indian Ocean.
Blaming India for stalling of the USD 1.5 billion Colombo Port City project which was kept on hold by the present Maithripala Sirisena government for a year, the report said “apart from partisan politics in Sri Lanka, pressure from India has also been playing a crucial role in suspending the project”.
“New Delhi is often biased when viewing Chinese investment in South Asia. New Delhi’s anxiety stems from its suspicion that China is making an attempt to contain India. Despite the fact that neither Beijing’s investment to Sri Lanka nor the latter’s economic development will do any harm to India, New Delhi is still obsessed with the idea that China might create a military encirclement around India,” it said.
“The argument within the country over being pro-India or pro-China might gradually calm down along with Wickramasinghe’s China tour,” it said.
The report also said, “New Delhi does have a huge influence on Colombo, yet the relationship between Sri Lanka and China has not infringed on India’s interests. Colombo is now well aware that neither pro-India nor pro-China is the appropriate policy, and the best option is to keep a good relationship with all major powers.