Sri Lanka, which has suffered extensively due to the trickery of China, has come to understand that the port deal with the Dragon was its biggest mistake. Not only this, the neighboring country has now also said that it will continue with the policy of India First. Meanwhile, experts in South Asia say that in the times to come, countries like Nepal, Bangladesh may also regret the same, which are still tweeting with China.
Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Jayanath Kolombaje has said that Sri Lanka wants to follow a neutral foreign policy but will follow the policy of ‘India First’ in strategic and security matters. Speaking to a Sri Lankan TV channel, Kolombaje said, “The President (Gotabaya Rajapaksa) has said that we will follow the India First policy on strategic security matters.” We cannot be a strategic threat to India and we do not have to. We will benefit from India. The President has clearly said that as far as security is concerned, you are our first priority, but I have to deal with others also for economic prosperity.
The Foreign Secretary said that with neutral foreign policy, Sri Lanka will protect India’s strategic interest. During this time he said another big thing and admitted that it was a mistake to lease Hambantota port to China for 99 years.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar recently spoke to his counterpart Gunawardene after Rajapaksa’s election victory. The victory of 70-year-old Gotbaya Rajapaksa, who was the disputed Defense Secretary during the Civil War, is of particular importance to India as India hopes that the new Colombo administration will not allow foreign power against the strategic interests of New Delhi. Experts, who have monitored Sri Lankan diplomatic relations with global powers for decades, are confident that Gotabaya will not adopt a policy against much of US interests in the region.
Significantly, when Rajapaksa’s brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President of Sri Lanka, China invested heavily in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure projects. The investment came as Sri Lanka was isolated in the international fraternity due to the brutal crushing of the ongoing civil war from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The country was caught in the ‘Chinese debt trap’ due to Mahinda and had to lease the Hambantota port developed by China to China for 99 years.