Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa has sought to allay Indian concerns about the growing Chinese influence in Sri Lanka, saying India’s role in the island was a permanent feature, unlike other players whose engagement was limited to commercial projects they execute.
"The Chinese will come to Sri Lanka, build some projects and go, but the Indians will come here, they will build and they will stay. This is the difference in our relations with China and India," Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa told The Times of India in a two-hour long interview at his ’Temple Trees’ residence in Colombo last week.
Sri Lanka was a non-aligned country and India its neighbour. "Indians are our relations, and our cultural ties are 2,500 years old," he said. While those ties could not be broken, "It doesn’t mean that we won’t get commercial benefits from others." He added that even the LTTE had raised the Chinese bogey so that it could get India on its side.