'Modi's Jaffna visit interference in Sri Lankan affairs'

'Modi's Jaffna visit interference in Sri Lankan affairs'

Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Tamil-dominated Jaffna as "interference" in Sri Lanka's affairs, an official Chinese thinktank today said the recent "incidents" in Sino-Lankan ties are sufficient to "merit Beijing's attention."

"Modi's trip to Sri Lanka has courted attention from media outlets of many countries including China, with most of them believing New Delhi has gained the upper hand when Colombo halted the China-invested project," Liu Zongyi, assistant researcher of Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said in an article.

"Modi included in his Sri Lanka trip the city of Jaffna in the Tamil-majority Northern Province, which in fact shows India's interference in the country's internal affairs," the article published in state-run Global Times said.

In an apparent reference to the decision by Sri Lanka's new government to review USD 5-billion Chinese investments, including the controversial USD 1.5-billion Colombo Port City project, agreed during the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, the article said "every small country yearns to strike a balance among different powers."

"Some of them even attempt to maximise their national interests by taking advantage of the competition among great powers."

The article said "regardless of the nationalist Prime Minister's objective, recent incidents are sufficient to merit Beijing's attention."

It, however, cautioned: "Historical disputes between India and Sri Lanka over Tamil people and fishery resources will make it difficult for the two sides to build a rapport any time soon."

"If the Sri Lankan government ignores China's goodwill in a bid to cater to certain powers, it will hardly gain respect from the international community," it said.

China proposed the 'One Belt and One Road' (also known as Silk Road) project as a strategic initiative to revive its slowing economy.

China should follow closely the reactions of both regional powers and small states when promoting the plan, it said.

"India has myriad historical and cultural links with Indian Ocean island nations. New Delhi also has the ambition of playing a leading role in the region," the article said.

The initiative is hailed by most South Asian and Indian Ocean countries, but India holds that there must be "some ulterior geopolitical purposes behind it," it said.

"New Delhi doesn't want countries in South Asia and the Indian Ocean to participate in the programme, but it is unable to propose a substitute," it said.

"Now that Modi has reached out to the Indian Ocean island states, it seems India is determined to gain a dominant position in the region by enhancing military and security cooperation with them," it said.

Highlighting China's assistance to Sri Lanka to fight the LTTE, the article said, "save for China, no other country was willing to help Colombo then."

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