India maintained strict silence on Ranil’s visit to China. Only India is aware of the secret behind that silence. Subsequent to Mahinda’s defeat, his brother former Defence Secretary Gotabaya said at a conference that Indian Defence Adviser Ajit Doval had told him to halt the Colombo Port City (Chinese) Project. Gotabaya said, his brother’s government got involved in problems with India because of the decision the government took not to halt this project. If Doval had told Gotabaya to halt the Colombo Port City Project then there is no reason for them not to tell the same thing to either Maithri or Ranil. However, during his tour of India it was reported that India had given their approval for the project.
The maintenance contract for the roundabout close to the Colombo Port City Project at the Galle Face had been handed over to the Kingsbury Hotel located nearby during the period of the Rajapaksa Government. Recently when the Kingsbury Hotel expressed their willingness to hand over the maintenance to another institution, the Indian Oil Company (IOC) expressed their desire to take over the contract of maintenance.
IOC is also in charge of the project of renovating fuel tanks in Trincomalee. At the same time IOC is in charge of the Trincomalee Port Development Project as well. We do not know how China interprets the taking over of maintenance of the park near the Chinese Port Project by IOC. The government has not yet agreed to hand this over to the IOC. Maintaining a silent policy about Ranil’s Chinese Tour and the Chinese Port Project and remaining silent on the IOC taking over maintenance of the park near the Chinese Port Project depicts the secret behind India’s silence. During Mahinda’s Government, India wanted to establish an Indian Consul General Office near the Hambantota Port. It is not that Ranil is unaware of India’s fear regarding his visit to China and the Chinese Port Project. Ranil says that he pointed out to India that the Chinese Port Project will not be a threat to the security of India.
However, India had a keen eye on the manner in which Ranil’s agenda for his trip to China was prepared. We do not know whether Ranil was aware of that. He took preparation of his agenda for his trip to China to Temple Trees from the Foreign Ministry. The agenda was prepared secretively at Temple Trees. Therefore, India found it difficult to obtain information on it. The other thing is that when Ranil went to China, President Maithripala Sirisena met a group of German parliamentary representatives in Sri Lanka. Here Maithri said, that Sri Lanka will not act in a manner that will cause a threat to the security of another country because of a relationship with a certain country. Maithri gave that message to India. Germany is a country that is interested in the Chinese impact on Sri Lanka. When Maithri visited Germany, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was more interested in the topic of Lanka-Chinese relations. She showed that during Mahinda’s Government Germany was not happy regarding Lanka-China relations.
It is no secret that Western countries led by India and America helped to bring the Maithri-Ranil Government to power. The main reason for this was that Sri Lanka was under the influence of China. However, we do not know how they will analyze Maithri-Ranil getting close to China. The Bandaranaikes had close ties with India. However, in 1962, during the Indo-China war, Prime Minister Sirimavo acted as a peacemaker depicting that she was working towards an attempt to halt it, but there was an accusation that she acted in a manner that was advantageous to China. There was a suspicion that a secret agreement had been reached by her to hand over the Trincomalee Port to China if an Indo-China war took place. In 1964, India supported the UNP in overturning her government. That was against her government’s preference to China. In 1970, when Madame Sirimavo came back into power, she was accused of having helped the JVP in their 1971 uprising. Although she had a very close relationship with then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi during the Indo-Pakistan war she allowed Pakistani Aircraft to refuel in Sri Lanka. However, India did not fall out with her.
During Ranil’s visit to China, Chinese media reported pleasant news to India. That is that when the Chinese Silk Route Port Plan is being implemented, China will not depend on or have any hopes regarding Pakistan harbours or about Pakistan itself. Chinese media had stated that it was due to threats of terrorism in Pakistan. This was a very auspicious message for India. India is most fearful of this Chinese Port City Project due to the possibility of China getting together with Pakistan. Just as the Chinese media have given the message that Pakistan is not secure, it has given a signal to India as well. A signal has been given that the Chinese Colombo Port City Project will not be a threat to the security of India by Maithri-Ranil changing the agreement on the Port Project. How will India accept these signals? It is difficult to say whether India will renew its ties with the Rajapaksa’s to teach the Maithri-Ranil Government a lesson.