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India warns Sri Lanka over maritime security concerns

By Rohan Gunasekera

Sep 25, 2015 08:57 AM GMT+0530 | 6 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT – India's envoy in Sri Lanka has warned the island to be mindful of her big neighbour’s maritime security concerns, saying their neglect could affect bilateral relations.

Y K Sinha, High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, said Colombo port was heavily dependent on Indian container transhipment cargo and that India was keen to boost trade and investment with the island.

"Thirty percent of Indian cargo goes through Colombo port," he told the India – Sri Lanka Maritime Forum which preceded the Colombo International Maritime Conference that began Thursday.

"Container cargo to and from India accounts for 70 percent of Colombo’s transhipment cargo."

Sinha said extensive maritime links between the two countries had boosted bilateral trade which had grown several times since a free trade agreement was signed between them.

India and Sri Lanka were working closely in the area of maritime security, Sinha said.

But there were “matters of some concern” to India, he noted, an apparent reference to Indian concerns over Sri Lanka’s tilt towards China under the regime of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who was ousted in the January presidential poll.

"A large amount of cargo handled by Colombo is India-centric," Sinha said.

"Because of that if there are any other issues that concern India, I think policy makers need to be sensitive to that."

Sinha said maritime security and Indian transhipment was not directly linked, which may indicate that India has no objection to their firms using a Chinese owned terminal in Colombo to tranship their cargo.

Using Colombo allows Indian exports to be more competitive either by faster delivery or lower cost and import also to be more cost-efficient, which is why shippers use the hub.

But any development which has the potential to disrupt Indian security could impact the flourishing maritime links between India and Sri Lanka, Sinha warned.

He said he had no doubt that the Sri Lankan side would be cognizant of India’s concerns and be willing to accommodate them.

A deep-water container terminal built and operated by a big Chinese port operator, China Merchants Holdings (International), twice hosted calls by Chinese attack submarines that took part in Indian Ocean anti-piracy patrols last year.

The submarine visits, as well as plans by a Chinese company to reclaim land next to Colombo port to build a 1.4 billion US dollar ‘Port City’, part of which it was to own, reportedly caused alarm in the Indian establishment.

Maritime security also figured in the talks between Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and India's Narendra Modi earlier this month.

Indian submarines lurking around Sri Lanka's territorial water or using the country as a base opens an extra southern flank for the Indian defence establishment requiring more resources to be deployed in the area, an analyst familiar with the issue said.

India already has to look after her Western and North Eastern border security with Pakistan and China. (Colombo/Sept25/2015)


 

6 Comments

  1. NAK September 26, 10:35 AM

    It is the same old security story that has been played and over played over the years. Sri Lanka together with China has has given assurences to India that the Association between the two countries are purely commercial.As Sinha himself admit,the Indian usage of the Colombo port is not through the love us but financial and he should be forewarned that unncessary and imaginary security concerns should not be allowed to hinder such activity which are profitable to both India and Sri Lanka.

  2. Boatu Sudar September 25, 07:21 AM

    Not all the countries in South Asia hate India. The countries with the biggest problems with India are the two nationalist nations. That is Muslim nationalist Pakistan and Bhuddist nationalist Sri Lanka.In fact countries like Nepal and Bhutan which were not governed by the popular vote/minority hate had good relations with India for a long time.Relations with Bangladesh, Maldives etc are so so. We had very good relations with Indian states for a long time and were colonized by them of course we have also fought wars, many times based on the rivalries in India. Cholas attacked us because we were friendly with Pandyas who helped us in turn etc.While some Indians are probably cussed not all are like that. China exported US58bn to India last year cussed or bad businessmen or not. That shows that Chinese are better businessmen than Indians Or usLots of US, German etc IT companies, Japanese companies like Komatsu have invested in India and are quite happy. If you want to find a partner go to some place like Bangalore and Kerala. Go and find them. Some of them will be quite innocent and nice. Don't wait for them to come here.

  3. Giabao September 25, 06:19 AM

    India must ask why all countries in South Asia hate it. I think even west is realizing the mistakes they did by flocking to india with cheap money due to US money printing, Now most of them are stuck and cannot get out. It is impossible to work with Indians and indian businesses. Many businesses salivate at india because of its large population/ market, but at the end it is not worth the effort,

  4. Prasanna September 25, 05:49 AM

    Sri Lanka should not get involved in big brother games. Let China fight her own battles. China is still learning how not to be aggressive. It is browbeating countries like Vietnam.


    India kicked out Ranil and brought in Chandrika/MR in 2014. It is a well known fact about who RAW funded at that time. India doesn't trust Ranil, because Ranil is a stubborn so-and-so at times. Sometimes he listens to nobody, including India. Big brother does not like it.


    While Ranil is stopping Chinese military activity here he is letting them to economic stuff as they want. That is not very much to the liking of India as they are nervous about China. Also the West seem to trust Ranil for whatever reason.

  5. Crana September 25, 05:42 AM

    India should be very careful what it says. This is not the 1980's. SL has moved on from Indian sponsored terrorism. We want friendly relations with India. Same as with China. Don't mistake the reason why MR was voted out. It had nothing to do with foreign policy. It was due to his crony capitalism.

  6. Garawi September 25, 04:40 AM

    Is he big brother starting to peek over our shoulder and dictate terms to us again Sri Lanka is an independent county, not an Indian satellite We need to have the best connections with the world for the betterment of OUR country irrespective of any neighboring bullies MR was ousted for he was leaning too much towards China and NOT because Sri Lanka wan nog leaning enough towards India We want to be friendly with both So India take notice that the small neighbor will not tolerate the typical bullying anymore. We have learnt a lesson in 1978.

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