“[India] has come to also rely on other powers such as Japan in its attempt to balance the Chinese presence in Sri Lanka.”
Eshan Jayawardena argues that India has previously relied on its strong bilateral ties with other powers, to dissuade them from heavily influencing smaller South Asian states. But given India’s now sensitive bilateral relations with China, Delhi needs a new strategy.
This situation has prompted India to invoke a ‘stag hunt’ strategy, whereby it cooperates with others to achieve the strategic goals that Delhi cannot achieve on its own: for example, to offset China’s growing influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
This stag hunt strategy is exemplified in Sri Lanka, where India has sought to invest in projects related to liquefied natural gas and shipping by partnering with other powers like Japan.
LKI Take: Sri Lanka needs strong normative standards to leverage such multi-partner engagement, including of transparency, stakeholder consultation, sustainability and security. The ADB’s safeguards and AIIB’s Environmental and Social Framework could be minimum reference points.
“Beijing wants not only to prevent the United States from interfering with its domestic cyber policies: It also wants to set the tone for how the rest of the world governs the internet.”
Samm Sacks argues that China adopts a control-based model of the internet, which other countries may find more appealing than the Western model of an ‘open internet.’ China’s model includes a high degree of surveillance, censorship, and data storage.
Developing countries like Tanzania and Vietnam have already adopted features of China’s internet governance model. States may believe Beijing’s model is useful in tackling actual and potential security threats like terrorism and political dissent.
However, it is unclear whether China’s model more efficiently addresses security threats than a free market model. For example, filtering or removing online content may be cost-prohibitive, while also suppressing effective anti-extremism voices and influencers.
LKI Take: China’s UnionPay International has already partnered with Sri Lankan banks. Other Chinese platforms like WeChat Pay and Alipay are being adopted internationally and 5G networks may offer more potential for a control-based model. Sri Lanka must constantly review its regulatory framework in light of such technological developments and normative issues.
There has not been a mass social movement against nuclear weapons since the 1980s. To rebuild itself, the anti-nuclear movement should coordinate with other social movements working on related (and now more popular) issues, like climate change.
Given the tepid support for the Nuclear Ban Treaty among NWS, a widespread popular movement is necessary to foster political and legal support for nuclear disarmament.
LKI Take: Sri Lanka should embrace the goal of nuclear disarmament and can use that to (i) promote nuclear and conflict risk reduction in the region, (ii) project itself as a neutral host for confidence-building measures among NWS in the region and other sensitive international meetings, and (iii) underscore the neutrality of its ports and other strategic assets.
*Written by Malinda Meegoda and Barana Waidyatilake and edited by Anishka De Zylva. The opinions expressed in these Weekly Insights are not the institutional views of LKI, and do not necessarily reflect the position of any other institution or individual with which the authors are affiliated.
A think tank engaging in independent research of Sri Lanka’s international relations and strategic interests, to provide insights and recommendations that advance justice, peace, prosperity, and sustainability.