Thursday, November 29, 2018

China's Legacy in Sri Lanka's Civil War Gives It a Diplomatic Edge

Kadira Pethiyagoda,

China's Legacy in Sri Lanka's Civil War Gives It a Diplomatic Edge

Related image
image (not from article) from, under the title 
"Sri Lanka backs China port city deal after threat to cancel,"

China, India, and the United States have all been accused of interfering in Sri Lanka during both the 2015 election and the recent turmoil. While these countries have denied it, what is likely is that China’s new-found confidence in its image is based in an increasing insight into Sri Lankan politics, an insight that helps Beijing capitalize on the current situation.

In particular, Beijing’s strategists may have come to appreciate the lingering trauma of the three-decade civil war in the minds of Sri Lankans of all ethnic groups. ...

The American and European positions during the war were viewed by large parts of the population as, at best, acquiescent to the separatist cause, and at worst, pursuing a clandestine divide-and-conquer agenda. In contrast, Beijing is seen as, at best, a much-needed great power ally that helped end the war and countervail Indian regional dominance, and at worst, a transactional partner who extracted payment for military support with high-interest loans for unprofitable projects. ...

American and European policymakers must adequately appreciate the legacy of their positions during Sri Lanka’s war. The lingering perception of the West’s interference in sovereign states, whether accurate or not, acts as a handicap when competing with Beijing in the public diplomacy [JB emphasis] arena. ...

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