Concern is growing in Indian security establishments over increasing Chinese footprints in Sri Lanka’s strategic sectors. The National Security Council Secretariat has called an inter-ministerial consultation next week to decide on “possible approaches” to protect “Indian interests” in its neighbourhood.
The latest to cause alarm are reports of Chinese-Sri Lankan collaboration in the area of space. A Sri Lankan firm is likely to launch its first communication satellite with Chinese help in 2015. In mid-2012, the National Security Adviser (NSA) had discussed this issue and the Department of Space was asked to “provide assessment of the security implications” on India due to Sri Lanka’s space programme.
Notably, a Sri Lankan company, Supreme SAT (Pvt.) Ltd. signed an agreement with the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka in May 2012 to launch the telecommunication satellite at a cost of $320 million in partnership with China Great Wall Industry Corporation, a state-owned Chinese company. Subsequently, it was also decided to set up a space academy-cum satellite ground station at Kandy.
The Indian authorities have been looking into possible options to counter any security threat. In its suggestions, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had said India should offer to build and launch satellites for Colombo.