China accused of engaging in “economic blackmail” in Sri Lanka

China has been accused of engaging in “economic blackmail” in Sri Lanka to win the support of Sri Lanka.

Former Indian National Security Advisor M K Narayanan said that differences between India and China are likely to deepen and the Doklam standoff was not a one off incident.

Narayanan, while speaking at the international symposium Indo-China relations — Resolving Contentious Issues in Kolkata, said the Chinese are peeved over Indias support to the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, apart from differences over economic and border issues.

“I dont say there will be war but there will be constant conflict,” the former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief said.

Narayanan said that Doklam was not a one off incident and “Chinas nibbling tactics will continue”.

“There is no end, China will bring it back again and again,” the former NSA said.

China is trying to strangle India by befriending its neighbours and attempting to make India friendless, he alleged.

China has employed different means, including economic blackmail, to try to win over Indias neighbours, Narayanan said and noted that it had also employed such tactics with Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Bangladesh.

He said Pakistan was the “main kingpin” in Chinas designs in the region.

“Chinas taking over of Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, Gwadar port in Pakistan and setting up of a naval base in Djibouti (in Africa) and intent to increase such presence will only lead to worsening of relations between the two Asian giants,” he asserted.

These will change the balance of power to Indias disadvantage, Narayanan said, adding that the differences between the two countries were likely to deepen.

“Finding common ground will not be easy, the differences may lead to unexpected consequences,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, former Army chief General (retd) Shankar Roy Chowdhury was, however, optimistic that India would prove to be a match for Chinas military prowess.

“We have travelled a long way since 1962. Most of the issues with China are due to diminished self-perception. We are actually bigger than we think we are.

“Doklam was expression of Indias self-confidence. It started with a havildar telling a junior commissioned officer on the other side that this is not 1962. It took the havildar to tell we are not in 1962,” the former Army chief said.

Stating that much is being made of the Chinese threat in the Indian Ocean, he asserted that India is strategically better placed there than China.

“The Indian Peninsula provides us with the worlds largest natural aircraft carrier which is unsinkable and looks over the Chinese oil supply lines from the Middle-East, apart from Andaman and Nicobar Islands placed like a dagger on the throat of the strategic shipping routes of China in the Indian Ocean,” Roy Chowdhury said.

The two-day symposium has been organised by the Research Centre for Eastern and North Eastern Regional Studies, a Kolkata-based think-tank. (Colombo Gazette)