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Dubious Chinese investments in Lanka’s Satellite sector cause national security concerns

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Chennai: Dubious Chinese investments have stepped up in Sri Lanka’s strategic sectors like high technology, military hardware and satellite communications, thereby raising serious national security concerns according to highly placed sources who are monitoring this issue.

Colombo’s political and industry circles have always put investments in Sri Lankan strategic sectors on a raised pedestal, be it during the regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa or incumbent Maithripala Sirisena.

Undoubtedly, Sri Lanka requires high technology, nonetheless, in order to acquire it, dubious deals seem to have been solicited by businessmen with doubtful integrity or no experience to run such companies dealing with critical technological know-how. Sources say that they are basically fronting for China.

In a related development, former British prime minister Tony Blair has landed in Sri Lanka to participate in a high profile investment drive. The visit and the investment drive are being coordinated by persons of dubious repute to push the Chinese agenda.

A local corporate upstart both in Sri Lankan and international business circuit, entered into an exclusive partnership agreement with China’s state-owned China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) for design, manufacture and launch of satellites and also to secure marketing rights for other satellites owned and operated by China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) and the China Satellite Communications Corporation.

The Sri Lankan company run by dubious elements later claimed that Lanka’s first partly-owned communication satellite, Supreme SAT-1, was launched in November 2012 from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre. This claim was made to further draw Chinese investments into the Satellite Sector in Sri Lanka. While the reality is that it was basically a Chinese Satellite.

However, the United National Party (UNP), which was then in opposition, had expressed doubts over the launch of the satellite and exhorted the Sri Lankan Government to reveal the truth behind the satellite project as there was more than what met the eye.

Significantly, preceding the launch in August 2012, a 20-member Chinese delegation, led by Chinese Vice Minister and Director for State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, Chen Quifa visited Lanka and laid the foundation stone for the Sri Lanka Space Academy-cum-Satellite Ground station at Pallekele in Kandy.

The Sri Lankan company’s collusion with China has triggered sensitivities in India, especially in view of the clause in the MoU regarding sharing of security surveillance information between Sri Lanka and China.

Interestingly, in December 2012, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, who was then the Leader of Opposition, raised a query in the Parliament whether China was using satellite orbit slots allocated to Sri Lanka, as foreign media had mentioned the launch of a satellite called ChinaSat-12 communication satellite while Sri Lankan media had claimed the launch of SupremeSAT on the same day.

In other words, was China using Sri Lanka’s orbital locations? It is this issue, which is generating a lot of concern in the region. (ANI)

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