India is interfering in Sri Lanka’s affairs to stop China’s growing presence in the island nation, Chinese experts feel, according to the Chinese daily.

It was quite apparent that “Sri Lanka’s vow not to allow Chinese military activity in the port of Hambantota is meant to pacify India,” the Global Times said after speaking to experts.

The assurance was “unnecessary” since the port was always meant for civilian use and India is too sensitive over China’s presence in the Indian Ocean, the experts believe.

Last week, Sri Lankan Ambassador to China Karunasena Kodituwakku said that no Chinese military activity will be allowed in the port of Hambantota.

Hambantota is a strategic port in Sri Lanka, 80 per cent stake of which is held by a Chinese firm.

“Sri Lanka’s promise is unnecessary because the port is meant for civilian use, and shows that India is interfering in Sri Lanka’s affairs”, Chu Yin, Associate Professor at the University of International Relations, told the influential Chinese daily.

“The Belt and Road initiative always focuses on civilian projects to help developing countries, and China respects these countries’ security concerns when pushing infrastructure development,” Chu said.

“Since India remains preoccupied with China’s presence in the region, Sri Lanka has to repeatedly pacify its neighbour even when this is aimed at promoting Sri Lanka’s economic development.” he added.

Lin Minwang, Professor at the Institute of International Studies of Fudan University, said- “Sri Lanka initially wanted India to help develop Hambantota port, but it finally turned to China for help since India faces financial difficulties and concerns over future competition with its own ports in the Indian Ocean.”

“China has no intention to offend India, and the programme is good for Sri Lanka’s economic development. But if India has a problem with the programmme and oppresses its neighbour, it only shows that it is interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs,” Chu said.

First Published | 7 February 2017 4:37 PM
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