03/12/2010, 00.00
INDIA – CHINA – SRI LANKA
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Chinese aid to Sri Lanka could lead to conflict

by Nirmala Carvalho
Fr Nithiya, the executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, talks about Sri Lanka’s new, Chinese-funded airport. He blames outside power for turning the country into a colony, destroying peace; he points the finger at China, India and Pakistan.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – China, India and Pakistan “are trying to help Sri Lanka every way they can, but their motives are not noble. Through their investments, they are becoming like godfathers to the ‘emerald’ nation, which holds a strategic position for the region’s major maritime powers,” said Fr S. Nithiya, executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. He was responding to news that China plans to finance the building of a new airport in Sri Lanka.

China plans to lend Sri Lanka about US$ 200 million to build a second international airport in the south of the island. Another US$ 100 million from Beijing will help boost the island's railway network.

China is pouring money into Sri Lanka, which some see as an attempt to undermine Indian influence in the region.

“What is sad,” the clergyman said, “is that Sri Lankan authorities know the situation, and are doing all they can to take advantage of the situation, for themselves that is, not for the people. China will have a foothold in Sri Lanka for its weapons and enhance its hegemony. This will lead India to rearm to counter Chinese influence. We must keep these factors in mind and remain vigilant.”

Given the evolving balance of power, India “will spend billions of dollars in weapons rather than on domestic development. Of course, we can understand the reasons, but why such a big country like India cannot find better ways to settle potential conflicts? Why not try dialogue? Why are there no peace initiatives?”

According to Fr Nithiya, China’s new interest in Sri Lanka should be dealt with at the United Nations. India could ask the Security Council to address the matter. Unfortunately, India does not have a clear conscience on such an issue; nor does Pakistan. All three nations have prevented international action in Sri Lanka. This shows how much they are guilty.”

For the Capuchin clergyman, “it is incredible that these nations, especially China, should give so much money abroad that ends up in the pockets of the few, whilst so many of its own people are in dire straits at home. Militarism does not lead to peace but to more violence. I hope that future investments will go to welfare, not warfare.”

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