Feature Article

Colombo wants ‘Sea of Lanka’ geopolitics to accompany Indian Ocean/Indo-Pacific outlook

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 December 2019, 23:12 GMT]
Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu was visiting Colombo meeting the newly elected SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his sibling, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the SL Prime Minister and former President on Friday. During his visit, the Japanese Foreign Minister was talking about strengthening bilateral trade, infrastructure-development and high-tech assistance to the island along with Japan’s (or Quad powers’) overarching geopolitical agenda known as the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP). SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, welcoming the Japanese offer was, however, more interested about collaborating with Japan to create an employment-oriented and technology-driven economy in the island while keeping the Indian Ocean “a zone of peace free of any conflict”. At the same time, Mr Gotabaya was insinuating a different “message” through some private media outlets to the Quad countries.

The Japanese perception of Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy [Image courtesy: The Interpreter, published by the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia]

SL Claim of outer continental shelf

Screenshot of news1st report
Screenshot of news1st report
“Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone is nearly nine times its landmass, and therefore should be called the Sri Lankan Sea or the Sea of Lanka. This ocean region comes within the exclusive purview and control of Sri Lanka, within the peripheries of international law,” said a news report filed by News1st, which is operated by Maharaja TV Channel Private Ltd, which is the largest private media operator in the island on Friday.

While waging the genocidal onslaught on Eezham Tamils in 2009, the SL State, ruled by the Mahinda Rajapaksa applied to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) seeking to extend the 200 nautical mile economic zone by five times to 1,000 nautical miles. The application sent to the UNCLCS on 08 May 2009 was in effect seeking 25 times the land area of the entire island into its sovereignty.

The ‘Lanka’ sovereignty claim over the sea extends into a vast expanse of the south of the Bay of Bengal.

The SL State submitted the report with the assistance (grant and credit) from Norway’s Development Agency, the NORAD.

Several other western countries also backed the move while the SL State was committing genocidal war, and the LTTE vessels were being systematically destroyed in the high seas with the intelligence information coming from the USA.

SL Claim of outer continental shelf
Note the claim of SL State for an outer continental shelf beyond the standard 200 nautical mile limit [Image courtesy: Daily News]

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s geopolitical outlook seeks to convert the economy of genocidal Sri Lanka into a blue economy and expand its navy into a deep-water navy.

The implied message coming from Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the talk of maintaining the zone as peace zone stems from the thought of transforming the island into a blue power with carving out its own identity of “Lanka”.

New Delhi has not opposed the UN-CLCS application of Colombo.

NOAC perspective of continental shelf
Image of Indian Ocean seafloor as prepared by SL State's National Ocean Affairs Committee (NOAC) [Photo courtesy: economynext.com]

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