Tuesday February 18, 2020
Home World Regional Poli...

Regional Political Turmoil Reflects India-China Rivalry

Recent differences between President Sirisena and his sacked prime minister over whether a container terminal at Colombo’s port should be developed with Indian investment also strained their ties.

0
//
India. political
Maldives' new President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, center right, receives Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the President's office in Male, Maldives. VOA

Political developments in two tiny countries in the Indian Ocean region, Maldives and Sri Lanka, reflect the growing rivalry between India and China in the strategic region. A new government, which is resetting frayed ties with India, has taken over in the Maldives from the previous administration seen as pro-China. But political turmoil has engulfed Sri Lanka following the controversial reemergence of a pro-China leader on the political center stage of the island nation on India’s southern tip.

Optimistic of regaining ground lost to China in the Maldives in recent years, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew in to the Maldivian capital, Male for the swearing-in of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as president, who won a surprise victory in September. Modi was the highest-ranking foreign leader at the ceremony held on Saturday.

Shifting ties

New Delhi was not disappointed. Solih signaled an end to the country’s pro-China stance as both countries expressed confidence in the “renewal” of their close bonds. The new Maldivian leader mentioned a “dire economic situation” facing the country due to the country’s growing debt with Beijing incurred as his predecessor signed onto a host of China-funded projects. “The damage done due to projects conducted only for political reasons, and at a loss, are huge,” he said.

Maldives. political
Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (C), the president-elect of the Maldives, interacts with his supporters during a gathering in Male, Maldives. VOA

Meanwhile the head of the Maldivian National Party that leads the ruling alliance, Mohammad Nasheed, has said that the new government would pull out of a free-trade agreement signed last year with China.

The statements were positive for India, which saw its influence in the Maldives decline under Solih’s predecessor, and worried that a spate of infrastructure projects by Beijing could pave the way for it to establish a strategic base on the islands chain.

Modi assured the Maldives that New Delhi would help get it through its economic difficulties.

But even as New Delhi looks to rebuild bridges with the Maldives, observers caution that India will struggle to maintain its once predominant influence in its neighborhood amid growing Chinese presence in South Asian countries.

Chinese state companies already have large investments in the Maldives and thousands of well-heeled Chinese tourists pour into the country every year.

“As China pushes itself into the Indian Ocean region, one of the key drivers that all these countries are now pursuing is trying to maximize benefits from both India and China,” says K. Yhome at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

Sri Lanka, parliament, political
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena waves to supporters during a rally outside the parliamentary complex in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Sri Lanka

Observers point to developments in another Indian Ocean country, Sri Lanka, where in 2015 the defeat of a pro-China leader Mahinda Rajapaksa brought into power a new administration friendlier to India under President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

But in a hugely controversial development, Sirisena last month sacked Wickremesinghe, seen as more pro-India, and appointed Rajapaksa as his prime minister. Rajapaksa has twice failed to prove his majority in parliament and the move has attracted criticism from Western countries amid fears that it violates the constitution and is a setback to democracy in Sri Lanka.

Although the political tussle in Sri Lanka was largely triggered by deep differences between President Sirisena and Wickemesinghe, who led a fragile coalition, observers say the shadow of India and China is not far away.

Pointing out that a domestic crisis presents an “opportune moment” for big powers, Harinda Vidanage, director of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies in Colombo says that “the larger context of the current political situation is clearly the intensifying India-China rivalry in countries like Sri Lanka.”

Others also point to the reemergence of Rajapaksa, who took the country closer to China during his ten-year rule.

Sri Lanka, political
A photo taken Feb. 10, 2015, shows a general view of Sri Lanka’s deep sea harbor port facilities at Hambantota. VOA

“The assumption is that whatever Rajapaksa does, the financial bill as it were will be met in some way by the Chinese,” says Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, head of the Center for Policy Alternatives in Colombo, “The consequences of that of course is that it will push us further into the Chinese arms as it were.”

Rajapaksa had awarded a string of projects to Beijing including building a strategic port at Hambantota. In a bid to counter China’s growing presence, New Delhi also began bidding for infrastructure projects.

Also Read: Parliament In Sri Lanka Get Dissolved, President Calls For Election

However recent differences between President Sirisena and his sacked prime minister over whether a container terminal at Colombo’s port should be developed with Indian investment also strained their ties. Wickremesinghe, according to reports, wanted the project to go to India, President Sirisena did not.

Observers also say that although China has faced criticism that many of its investments under its ambitious Belt and Road initiative are driving smaller nations like Sri Lanka and the Maldives into debt, the Chinese offers of gleaming infrastructure continue to be an allure for smaller countries. (VOA)

 

Next Story

itel Releases “Vision 1”, Big Battery Phone at Rs 5,499

itel Vision 1, India's 1st waterdrop smartphone

0
itel
itel launched a category disruptor called "Vision 1" with HD+ IPS waterdrop display and big battery at Rs 5,499 in India. Wikimedia Commons

itel, the leading smartphone brand from Transsion India on Monday launched a category disruptor called “Vision 1” with HD+ IPS waterdrop display and big battery at Rs 5,499 in India.

The Vision 1 comes packed with free itel Bluetooth wireless headset worth Rs 799 from its recently launched accessories portfolio and also an instant cashback offer of Rs 2,200+25GB additional data from Reliance Jio, all together at Rs 5,499, the company said.

Other features of the phone include 15.46cm (6.088-inch) HD+ IPS waterdrop with incell technology and 2.5D curved fully laminated display and 4000mAh high capacity battery, among others. The phone comes with 2GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage expandable up to 128GB.

The phone brings the power of enhanced Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered dual camera, dual security features includingmultifunctional fingerprint sensor and face unlock, dual active 4G VoLTE and VoWifi support.

itel
Features of the itel phone include 15.46cm (6.088-inch) HD+ IPS waterdrop with incell technology and 2.5D curved fully laminated display and 4000mAh high capacity battery, among others. (Representational Image). Pixabay

“Since the brand launch in India in 2016, itel has come a long way and has established itself as the leader in less than 5K segment as per Q3 and Q4 Counterpoint Reports of 2019. This remarkable success in a short span is a testimony of itel’s magical product portfolio, that is based on the needs and demands of customers, backed by extensive market research,” Arijeet Talapatra, CEO, Transsion Holdings India, said in a statement.

Featuring a sleek 8.5 mm design, itel Vision 1 is topped with 500 nits brighter screen for higher transmittance that provides an extra glow to the outdoor viewing experience. It is further adorned with 19:5:9 aspect ratio and 1560×720 resolution for immersive and cinematic video viewing.

itel said Vision 1 provides with 820 hours standby, 24 hours’ average usage, 45 hours of playing music, 8 hours of playing video and 7 hours of gaming. The smartphone comes equipped with 8MP + 0.08MP AI dual rear camera with flashlight, configured in a unique camera deco design, adding to the premium look and feel.

The camera has AI beauty mode, portrait mode, HDR, that helps in smart recognition, automatic adjustments of the camera effects, capturing sharper objects with greater details.

Also Read- Simple Blood Test May Help Improve Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer: Study

The front 5MP selfie camera with AI beauty mode houses flashlight to ensure bright and clear selfie, even in low-light areas. Running on the latest Android Pie 9 OS, Vision 1 is powered with 1.6GHz octa-core processor for seamless multitasking functionality. (IANS)