Sri Lanka has leased out one of its strategically located sea port, Hambantota port, to China for 99 years. China Merchants Ports Holdings, which is an arm of the Chinese government has secured 70 percent stake in the port in an agreement signed last week. The genesis of such acquisition by China is because of the debt default by the Sri Lankan government. Sri Lankan government took loans from China to expand the port, which they defaulted. As result, an agreement was struck that China will take lease of this port for almost a century. This development can be considered as semi colony of China in the heart of Sri Lanka.
China, with this acquisition, has moved one step closer of encircling and pacifying India. The encircling of China can also be seen in Pakistan, where the CPEC project to develop Gawadar Port in Arabian Sea is a deal going much more than trade. It is the “String of Pearls” strategy of China to encircle India through Pakistan.
Speaking strictly for trade, Hambantota port is an opportunity for India to trade with Sri Lanka more easily. However, Chinese strategy is much farfetched. They want to use it against India as naval base in case of an all out war. India is also disadvantaged by the fact that China’s growing influence on Sri Lanka can make her an adversary of India with their foreign policy going against us.
The question now remains what India can do to counter such aggressive stands of China? There are two partners India has in the likes of United States and Japan, which can come in India’s help. However, President Trump is very whimsical and expert in cutting corners. There can be no guarantee that in case of confrontation with China, US will actively help India. Japan, on the other hand, has limited war expertise which can create much difference against China. The only option for India is to strengthen itself at par with China, which will not be easy. The situation is catch 22 for India!