President Ranil Wickremesinghe has asserted that Sri Lanka’s government does not align itself with either India nor China and firmly stands for Sri Lanka’s interests above all else.
“Some time back a person asked me whether I am pro-Indian or pro-Chinese, so I said definitely I am not pro-Indian, and added by saying I am also not pro-Chinese. So he asked me, ‘then are you neutral?’ I said no I’m not neutral, I’m pro-Sri Lankan”, the Head of State asserted, adding that many countries do not understand the fact that Sri Lanka’s priorities are not the same as those of the ‘big powers’ and the others within the region.upro.
Participating in the ‘Ocean Nations: The 3rd Annual Indo-Pacific Islands Dialogue,’ which was moderated by Dan Baer, Senior Vice President for Policy Research at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and hosted by the Carnegie Endowment and Sasakawa Foundation, President Wickremesinghe highlighted the reluctance of island nations in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific to become embroiled in the rivalry between major world powers.
The President emphasised that these nations are focused on their own priorities, including social, economic, and ecological development and seek to maintain their sovereignty and independence.
Island nations in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific have distinct priorities, unrelated to the Quad (comprising the US, India, Japan, and Australia) or China’s objectives, he said, adding that Sri Lanka is open to collaboration with any partners willing to respect its autonomy.
“We are prepared to work with any actor, state or non-state actors, who will help us to achieve our objectives. We are working with the West on one side, and we are working with China on the other”, he said in this regard.
He assured, however, that Sri Lanka is not ‘hedging back and forth’ in a bid to extract the most possible benefits from anyone, emphasising “Throughout our island we have to deal with all powers that come in. We may have played one against the other, but that is for our survival”.
“It is the inability to understand the nature of the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific [regions] which is creating this, None of the countries involved seem to understand what our [Sri Lanka’s] geopolitics are, and what we do “, he further said.
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