Written by Staff Writer
15 Dec, 2021 | 7:09 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st); The Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Qi Zhenhong, began his visit to the islands Northern province on Wednesday (15) by visiting Point Pedro, the northern most point in the country.
He toured the area along with several Chinese officials and was accompanied by members of the Sri Lanka Army. The Media captured him asking local officials what the distance was from his location at Point Pedro to India, to which officials replied, telling him it was roughly 30 KM.
His visit to the North comes amidst a spate of frantic diplomatic activity in the politically sensitive region, especially in the backdrop of talks of a massive multi-million-dollar renewable energy project to be given to Indian conglomerate Adani.
The Adani investment comes in the wake of a recent visit by the Chairman of the company, Gautam Adani, to Sri Lanka which was followed by Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapakse’s visit to India. That visit was focused on Sri Lanka’s major cash crunch, to which India has reacted favorably, but perhaps with strings attached.
Sri Lanka has been walking a geopolitical tightrope between India and China for a close upon a decade now. Although its close proximity to India, China was the first mover having secured the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port, two key strategic positions in the Sea of Sri Lanka.
Analysts believe that a relatively recent lop-sided relationship with China, unnecessarily offset the good relations that Sri Lanka enjoyed with the world’s first and second most populous nations, for many decades.
“Now dragging it back to some sort of equilibrium would mean difficult decisions and consequences”, noted a senior political analyst at a local university.
The Sea of Sri Lanka has become the world’s geopolitical pivot, with all key superpowers flexing their muscle and jockeying for positions for access to sea routes and resources.
The Chinese String of Pearls or Maritime Silk Road, and the recently created AUKUS- a trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK and the US have a very focused strategic interest in the Sea of Sri Lanka.
It is in this light that moves and initiatives taken by key foreign missions in Sri Lanka must be read. The Chinese Ambassador visiting the North can be framed as routine.
But reading between the lines and understanding the long-term implications of this tug-of-war Sri Lanka is now embroiled in, will be the key challenge. And all of this amidst one of the worst economic downturns the nation has faced in the recent past.
A firm hand at the wheel along with the deft touch of diplomacy seems to be the need of the hour.
[Analysis: News 1st GEOPOLITICS – Sri Lanka’s Interest, above all ].
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