New US envoy calls on America to build relationship with Sri Lanka

President Joe Biden’s nominee as US envoy to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung, has called on America to build constructive relationships with Sri Lanka.

Julie Chung, during a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Sri Lanka is positioned in a strategic location at the heart of the Indian Ocean and its critical ports with access to global maritime lanes and trading routes play a pivotal role in a free and open Indo-Pacific architecture.

This reinforces the necessity for the United States to build constructive relationships with Sri Lanka, including with civil society, the private sector and the Sri Lankan people, she said.

Chung told lawmakers that if confirmed, she will work tirelessly to advocate for quality infrastructure and investment based on transparency, respect for international law and good governance, which is mindful of sustainable environmental and labour standards.

We must also support US companies doing business in Sri Lanka and utilise the tools we have with the Development Finance Corporation and the Export-Import Bank to provide alternatives to coercive lending and opaque contracts, she said, without naming any country.

China is one of the biggest investors in various infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. But there has been criticism, both locally and internationally, and growing concerns that China has lured Sri Lanka into a debt trap.

The previous Maithripala Sirisena government handed over the Hambantota port to a state-run Chinese firm in 2017 for a 99 years lease as a debt swap amounting to USD 1.2 billion.

US diplomat Chung said: the sinking of the MV X-Press Pearl cargo ship near the shores of Colombo a few months ago, causing its biggest marine disaster in Sri Lankas history, points to the need for upholding such standards.

US humanitarian assistance, emergency response capabilities and environmental surveillance tools helped Sri Lanka respond to this tragedy and is emblematic of how we can be a positive force and strong partner to the people of Sri Lanka, she said.

Sri Lanka, she said, is Asias oldest democracy and survived the tragedy of a civil war that resulted in unimaginable violence and continued ethnic and religious divisions.

If confirmed, I am committed to speaking clearly and consistently in support of democratic values, human rights and a strong civil society that are essential to democracies and central to our foreign policy approach.

We must also be strong partners in encouraging justice, accountability and reconciliation so that all Sri Lankans can share in the benefits of peace, security and prosperity, Chung added. (Agencies / Colombo Gazette)

2 COMMENTS

  1. The US destroyed Sri Lanka through Tamil diaspora, it has no rights to talk about China’s investments in Sri Lanka.

    The US hijacked Tamil armed group from India to get a foothold in Sri Lanka, because Sri Lanka is in a strategic location. The US encouraged the LTTE through Tamil diaspora to fight Asia’s longest brutal civil war for decades to get a foothold, including fighting against IPKF and encouraging child suicides. However, the West has failed utterly, because people like me wasn’t part of the west’s or LTTE’s agenda, but enlighten the dragon how important to conclude the proxy war in Sri Lanka, in order to undermine the West’s and India’s influence in Sri Lanka.

    Please note, Sri Lanka is in a strategic location than Singapore, but Sri Lankan leaders are not wise enough to capitalise it. I believe that Sri Lanka will become a fighting ground for regional and world powers, including biological warfares. Bombs will go off but nobody can pinpoint the country behind it. New covid 19 virus will pop up but won’t be able to find its origin. I personally don’t believe South Asia can come up. Things will get worse for South Asia by terrorism, biological warfares and poverty. I am glad I don’t live there, because it is a cursed region.

  2. Julie Chung has the right DNA coursing through her veins to understand the nuances of dealing with the Asian mentality and “culture”. However, a western education,
    life style, and western ideology, will not be conducive for commonsense application of that understanding to ground realities.

    It has taken Ambassador Teplitz many wasted years, to finally get on track. Perhaps, Ambassador Teplitz should start giving tuition classes.

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