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Sri Lanka- An uneasy peace

January 1, 2010

This radio program gives us a sense of how fragile the peace is in Sri Lanka. The Tamils remain wary as the Sinhalese government talks about “colonization”. (Think han Chinese in Tibet, but less deliberate).  Conflicts over land seem posed to erupt in some areas– a common post-conflict occurrence.

Of note:  Sri Lankan perceptions of the West as being judgmental and hypocritical, contrast these perceptions with impressions of China.

Sometimes I think Western powers (and Westerners more generally) have fallen asleep at the wheel. We need to snap out of it– China is forging new strategic partnerships all the time while the West seems to be unaware that it is losing its economic advantages one by one. Yesterday, it was China’s access to Africa’s natural resources. Today, we’re talking about China’s exclusive access to a new strategic port (in Hambantota) being built off of a major shipping lane. Tomorrow, it’s going to be something else.

By no means am I suggesting that we give up advocating on human rights issues– absolutely not. But I do think we need to make more of an effort to forge respectful relationships with developing countries. Access to these markets can no longer be thought of as a big pie to be divided up amongst Western powers. China has made up its own set of rules and frankly, developing countries seem to like them better on all fronts.

Crossing Continents: Sri Lanka 31 Dec 09

Charles Haviland examines the uneasy peace following the Sri Lankan government’s victory over the Tamil Tigers.

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