Sri Lanka Pledges To Safeguard India's Security Amidst Chinese Interests

Historically, Sri Lanka and India share deep-rooted cultural, religious, and economic ties. The relationship dates back to ancient times, with strong connections through Buddhism and trade. In recent decades, both nations have worked towards strengthening bilateral relations, focusing on economic collaboration, security cooperation, and regional stability.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry reaffirmed Sri Lanka’s commitment to protecting India’s national security interests, emphasizing Colombo’s stance as a responsible neighbor. Sabry assured that Sri Lanka would not permit any actions that could compromise India’s security.

Addressing concerns about the visits of Chinese research vessels to Sri Lankan ports, Sabry stated, “We have clearly stated that we would like to work with all countries, but any reasonable concerns regarding Indian security will be taken into account, and we will not allow anyone to harm that. Subject to that, of course, in a very transparent manner, we would like to work with all countries.”

Sabry also highlighted the economic ties between China and India, noting, “I just got to know that recently China has become India’s biggest trading partner. Similarly, like you work with that. We would also like to work with everyone, but that should not come at anyone else’s cost. Therefore, let me reiterate, as a responsible neighbor and a civilizational partner, we will not undertake anything that would harm the legitimate security concerns of India.”

Regarding the ongoing elections in India, Sabry praised the democratic process, describing it as a celebration of democracy. He asserted that Sri Lanka would collaborate with India regardless of the election outcome. “It’s a celebration of democracy, the largest democracy in the world. Indian people are educated and will know what is good for them. I think when it comes to elections, it is a domestic matter. It is the public who must decide, and others should only watch. We see this celebration taking place as a testament to democracy. We want a peaceful conclusion of this and will work with any outcome the Indian public decides,” Sabry stated.

Last year, India expressed security concerns over the docking of the Chinese research vessel Yuan Wang-5 at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port. The vessel, purportedly engaged in ocean bed mapping critical for anti-submarine operations, raised alarms in New Delhi. Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, commenting on the incident, stated, “Any developments that have a bearing on India’s security are obviously of interest to us. What happens in our neighborhood, any developments which have a bearing on our security, obviously are of an interest to us,” during a joint press conference following the 9th India-Thailand Joint Commission Meeting.

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Historically, Sri Lanka and India share deep-rooted cultural, religious, and economic ties. The relationship dates back to ancient times, with strong connections through Buddhism and trade. In recent decades, both nations have worked towards strengthening bilateral relations, focusing on economic collaboration, security cooperation, and regional stability.

Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean makes it a crucial player in regional geopolitics. The Hambantota Port, developed with Chinese investment, has been a focal point of strategic interest and concern for India. The port’s potential use for military purposes by China has heightened India’s vigilance regarding maritime security in the Indian Ocean region.

India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy underscores the importance of maintaining robust relationships with neighboring countries, including Sri Lanka. This policy aims to enhance regional cooperation, ensure mutual security, and foster economic growth.

As Sri Lanka navigates its foreign relations, the assurance from Foreign Minister Sabry underscores Colombo’s dedication to balancing its international partnerships while prioritizing regional stability and security, particularly concerning its longstanding relationship with India.