Sri Lanka renews weapons deal with China

[TamilNet, Sunday, 08 August 2004, 14:56 GMT]
The Sri Lankan government has renewed an agreement with China to continue to procure military hardware from a bonded warehouse Beijing set up ten years ago in the southern capital Galle, the Sunday Times reported. Sri Lanka’s Army, Navy and Air Force have already drawn up their immediate requirements, the paper said.

Though the agreement comes up for renewal every two years, the previous United National Front (UNF) government did not re activate it after it came to power in December 2001.

This was in view of the Ceasefire Agreement the UNF signed with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on February 22, 2002, the paper said.

Last Monday, however, Defence Secretary, Cyril Herath signed the renewal agreement in Beijing with one of China's leading defence equipment manufacturer, China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO).

Mr. Herath's visit for the renewal of the agreement underscores the significance UPFA Government attaches to new military hardware deals with China, the Sunday Times said.

The last occasion when the Bonded Warehouse Agreement - a government to government arrangement - was renewed was on May 22, 1998.

China remains Sri Lanka's number one supplier of military hardware during the near two decades of war.

The Sri Lankan Army, Navy and Air Force have already drawn up their immediate equipment needs from NORINCO, the Sunday Times said.

At least a top officer from one of the services left for Beijing this week to finalise requirements for his organisation, the paper said.

The NORINCO Bonded Warehouse in the former fisheries harbour complex in the Galle Port holds a wide variety of arms and ammunition in addition to other equipment. They remain the property of the Chinese state organization.

The Sri Lankan government is required to make payment and obtain their requirements. What is not available in the Warehouse is shipped to Colombo from China.

In terms of the renewed agreement, NORINCO has contracted to sell requirements of Sri Lanka's Army, Navy, Air Force and Police.

The Ministry of Defence of the Government of Sri Lanka is forbidden from obtaining from any other source the product range NORINCO has contracted to supply. They will be in a position to do so only after they obtain the written approval of NORINCO stating its inability to provide the equipment in question.

NORINCO in turn has assured that security equipment provided by them would be brand new and made available directly from their manufacturing plants. Such equipment will also carry a certificate of origin which will bear the year of manufacture.

 

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