The Peace Accord between India and SriLanka signed between Rajiv Gandhi and Jayewardene in 1987, among other things had a clause that the territories of the two countries will not be used for activities that are harmful to each other’s territorial integrity, unity and security.
However a few years back Sri Lanka had allowed a Chinese submarine to dock in the capital of Colombo in October 2014. On becoming known, this move triggered fierce opposition from India, as it was connected with the growing Chinese activity in a country which is well within the vital arc of India’s area of defence, not to talk of its area of influence. It took just a bit of time for everyone to understand that now India was a different India . Then a new Government also took over in Sri Lanka and there was good synchronization of aims between the two countries. Therefore this time Sri Lanka has rejected China’s request to dock one of its submarines in Colombo this month. This was officially conveyed to all concerned around time the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Sri Lanka on Thursday for a two-day official visit.
A senior Sri Lankan government official said China’s request to dock one of its submarines in Colombo this month had been rejected. He said Sri Lanka was “unlikely” to agree to China’s request to dock the submarine at any time, given India’s concerns. The official asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The second official, at the defence ministry, also said China’s request to dock this month had been rejected but that a decision on a further docking had been postponed. “It might happen later,” the second official told Reuters, adding that China had requested approval to use the port around May 16 “sometime back”.
A source close to the Chinese embassy in Colombo confirmed that China had requested permission for the submarine visit but was still awaiting a response.
China has invested heavily in Sri Lanka in recent years, funding airports, roads, railways and ports, unsettling India, traditionally the closest economic partner of the island nation of 21 million people. More than 70 percent of the trans-shipment in Colombo port comes from India.
Sri Lanka was earlier finalising a plan to lease 80 percent of its loss-making Hambantotata port to China for 99 years, but the deal has now been scrapped because of opposition from trade unions within the country and of course unhappiness expressed by India. Now the Sri Lankan government wants to establish a petroleum hub with the help of India in the eastern port city of Trincomalee, where Lanka IOC, the subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation, handles 15 out of 99 oil tanks.