Asanga Abeyagoonasekera speaks at the Hudson Institute

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Director General of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka(INSSSL) was invited to speak on the panel “China's Growing Influence in the Indian Ocean: Implications for the US and Its Regional Allies” at the prestigious think tank in Washington DC, the Hudson Institute on 20th April 2018.

At the panel, Mr. Abeyagoonasekera emphasized the important role Sri Lanka could play as the “regional stabilizer”in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) due to the Islands geostrategic position. He said “geopolitical thinker Halford Mackinder rightly identified almost a century ago the two outer Islands in his work which is Great Britain playing a significant role in Atlantic Ocean and Japan in the Pacific Ocean.

Sri Lanka which is an island situated in the outer crescent could also play a significant role in the Indian Ocean in this century, epecially as a stabilizer and promote peace as rightly spelled out in 1971 by Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike as the “Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace”.

Referring to the works of geopolitical thinker Rudolf Kjellen, he said "China has already developed three primary attributes to reckon as a great power which is spaciousness, freedom of movement and internal cohesion". Mr. Abeyagoonasekera said China’s One Belt One Road(OBOR) initiative is the modern day Marshal Plan of China to assist many developing nations and project as a global power. He said it is wrong to see Chinese loans as predatory loans. China has assisted many developing nations to build infrastructure, India should not worry about the Chinese sphere of influence in Sri Lanka because all foreign policy decisions are carefully calibrated by our policy-makers along with the experienced foreign service officers and they are not knee jerk reactions.

Sri Lanka will never allow military bases as we promote peace in the region. The key challenge is even after 70 years of independence from colonial past India, Sri Lanka and surrounding nations have failed to develop the economic condition. The other panelists included Saturo Nagao, Visiting Fellow Hudson Institute;Aparna Pandey, Research Fellow and Director Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia Hudson Institute; Toshi Yoshihara Senior Fellow Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The panel was moderated by Jonas Parello-Plesner Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute.