Relative Content

Tag Archive for Bejay

Sri Lanka will accept refueling visits by Chinas navy

Sri Lankan-Chinese trade more than tripled since 2010 to about $5 billion last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Trade with India doubled to $6 billion, with most of that increase coming under Wickremesinghe’s watch. Sri Lanka and India in September also pledged to bolster security in South Asia and their maritime region. “There is no phobia,” Wickremesinghe, 67, said in an interview in Singapore. “Basically, any agreement with China will be to accommodate everyone in investments, any agreements with India will accommodate everyone. And any agreements with Singapore or Japan will be that way. We have no problem with all our friends.” China, alongside countries such as Japan, India and Singapore, is seeking investment in Sri Lanka as that country’s economy emerges from a decades-long civil war, and given its geopolitical significance as an Indian Ocean gateway. Sri Lanka sits 64 kilometers (40 miles) from India’s coastline along a busy shipping route in which tankers carry oil from the Middle East to Asia. Issues with the port city development in Colombo have been “ironed out,” he said, with a task force preparing legislation on the project. Also, Chinese companies will be cooperating in public-private partnerships on harbor and airport developments in the southern city of Hambantota, with a liquid-natural-gas plant and refinery also set to be provided by Chinese investors.The goal, the prime minister said, is to make Sri Lanka “the hub” of the Indian Ocean for a revived Maritime Silk Road trading route to Europe. Chinese President Xi Jinping has touted the concept as part of his “One Belt, One Road” trade-and-infrastructure initiative, as he seeks to project China as a revitalized global power with a strong navy.“We will take whatever investment comes in,” said Wickremesinghe, who has been prime minister twice before and a lawmaker since 1977. “It is going to be mostly from East Asia,” he said. “We need the investment, we need the growth, we need the economic transformation.” The Government says it will accept refueling visits by China’s navy as long as they follow the proper procedures.Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Bloomberg Sri Lanka is agnostic about what countries it accepts foreign investment from, including China. Wickremesinghe said the country had hosted warships from many nations, but had a close engagement with India on security matters. Those security ties have raised the risk of tensions in the region with China on a military level, as India watches warily the expansion of Xi’s navy.China showed its growing naval prowess when it deployed a nuclear-powered submarine to patrol the Indian Ocean for the first time in 2014, while a diesel-powered one docked twice in Sri Lanka. The visits fueled doubts that China’s strategy of building ports in the Indian Ocean was purely economic.Still, Wickremesinghe said the country would potentially accept refueling visits by China’s navy. “Whether it is Chinese, American or anyone, as long as they follow the proper procedures and we keep our special engagement with India, there is no problem,” he said. Chinese-funded projects include a $1.4 billion plan to build a city roughly the size of Monaco on reclaimed land at Colombo port, Sri Lanka’s biggest foreign-funded investment on record.Wickremesinghe’s coalition initially pledged to break the $82 billion economy’s reliance on China after coming to power last year, but has since worked to rebuild ties as a ballooning budget deficit and depleted reserves force it to seek external help. The port project, which stalled briefly when Wickremesinghe took office, is back on track. The International Monetary Fund in June approved a $1.5 billion loan to help Sri Lanka lower borrowing costs. On the recent arbitration ruling by a tribunal in The Hague that dismissed China’s claims to exclusive access to a large part of the disputed South China Sea, he said Sri Lanka was confident that engagement between China and the Southeast Asian nations involved should “to a large extent be able to sort out the problem.”He called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China to implement a code of conduct — which has been in discussion for years with little progress — for the South China Sea, a key waterway through which about $5 trillion in trade moves a year.“We are looking at Asean at being the major bloc that represents all those countries concerned and China,” he said.“But remember this is the emergence of Asian power and it means China, Japan, India, and there will be some issues of their relationship with each other and with some of the other Western powers, but we don’t think anything is going to lead to war,” Wickremesinghe said.The rise of Asian nations didn’t mean the U.S. — which has dominated security in the western Pacific since World War II — no longer had a role, but “the U.S. has to define what that role is,” he said. “It didn’t happen under the Obama administration, so a lot will depend on what happens at the next presidential election.” (Colombo Gazette) read more

Army says screening issues of UN Peace Keepers will be resolved

The Sri Lanka Army said that it would always cooperate with the HRCSL for clearance of the backlog since information that had been produced by the Army for screening in some cases could also contain shortcomings, complications, discrepancies, due to operational commitments, change of residential addresses, etc.The Sri Lanka Army while assuring its best cooperation all the time to the HRCSL for implementation of its mandate expects the bilateral understanding and coordination would enable both parties to sort out the pending issues amicably as early as possible.At present, Sri Lankan troops, majority being from the Sri Lanka Army have been deployed in Lebanon (UNIFIL), South Sudan (UNMISS), Mali (MINUSMA), Abyei (UNISFA), New York (UNHQ), Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and Western Sahara (MINURSO), either as military observers, liaison officers, staff officers, staff officer assistants or general contingent troops for peace keeping. To-date a total of 450 Sri Lankan peace keepers are serving 7 UN peace keeping overseas missions under the UNDPKO. (Colombo Gazette) Accordingly, the national process of screening which needs the fullest cooperation of both the HRCSL and the armed forces for vetting UN bound own members came into effect early this year, although previous such clearance procedures were executed by authorities in the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. To be in line with the UN Secretary General’s decision No. 2012/18 on 11 December 2012 in relation to ‘screening of UN personnel for Human Rights’, the Sri Lanka Army, consequent upon discussions with the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UNDPKO and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) resolved that a national mechanism be followed with respect to independent screening of personnel through the HRCSL. The Army today said that it was confident the screening issues of UN Peace Keepers to be deployed from Sri Lanka will be resolved.Sri Lanka, as one of the Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) to the United Nations (UN) since the year 2004 has been in the practice of sending troops for UN Peace Keeping assignments in large groups in close collaboration with the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations (UNDPKO). “The Sri Lanka Army, much more contented to have been screened by our own independent authority, i.e HRCSL, particularly at a time Sri Lanka is expanding its participation in UN assignments, accordingly began submission of details of Army personnel, selected for UN missions for HRCSL’s independent vetting. In the meantime, UNDPKO in constant touch with the Sri Lanka Army has been inquiring into reasons, attributable to delayed dispatches of Sri Lankan troops for scheduled rotational releases as agreed upon,” the Army media unit said today.The Army said that a round table conference to this effect, attended by the Secretary to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chairperson and Commissioners of the HRCSL, visiting UNDPKO officials of the UN, New York, Commanders of the Army and Navy, Air Force Chief of Staff, Director General of the Directorate of Army Overseas Operations, STF officers and Ministry of Defence officials took place as recent as Thursday (21) in Colombo. read more