Is China again targeting Sri Lanka?
- Recently, a Chinese company has signed a contract to set up hybrid wind and solar energy (Renewable Energy) projects on three Sri Lankan islands, 45 km from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.
- Asian Development Bank (ADB), headquartered in Manila, Philippines, will finance the project, which will come upon islands named Delft, Nainativu, and Analativu close to the Palk Strait (set apart India from Sri Lanka) off the Jaffna peninsula.
About the Islands:
Among the three islands, Delft, the largest, is the closest to Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu.
- In 1974, India ceded to Sri Lanka, the tiny island named lies between the other two.
- The waters around these islands are bone of contention and bitter relation between Tamil Nadu and Jaffna. The fishermen have utilized these water bodies for business purposes.
- A Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries was set up in 2016 between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka. It will act as the mechanism to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issue.
The project is situated within the proximity of the Indian coastline.
Chinese presence in such a close location is not welcomed, especially when India and China face a face-off at the Line of Actual Control.
Also, the deployment of numerous vessels and forces in the Indian Ocean Region questions China’s intention.
India is making a lot of investment in Sri Lanka. India has brought a proposal for a tripartite agreement to develop the ECT in which a developed country like Japan is also involved. The ECT is located in the newly expanded southern part of the Colombo Port.
The ECT deal was vital for India as around 3/4th of transshipment that takes place through it is linked with India. The location of ECT is considered more as compared to the other ports in Colombo.
India had represented strong protest with the Sri Lankan government on the contract to the company’s origin from China.
In 2018, India voiced concern over various Chinese project which can harm the stability and Peace of Indian Ocean Region. China had proposed a $300 million housing project in a war-affected area. Due to India’s opposite stance, the project was dropped.
China’s Rising Influence in Indian Ocean Region and South Asia
At the starting of 2021, China has online conducted its third multilateral dialogue inviting countries of South Asia to take forward its cooperation on fighting Covid-19 and coordinating their economic agendas, reflecting a new approach in China’s outreach.
As per American Enterprise Institute’s research work, China is committed to making 100 billion USD in developing economies like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
China is now the largest overseas investor in South Asian countries like Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Mission Innovation 2.0
The Union Minister of Science & Technology, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, has recently addressed the Mission Innovation (MI) to mark the beginning of the second phase of Mission Innovation or Mission Innovation 2.0.
What is Mission Innovation?
The Mission Innovation was termed and launched on 30th November 2015, on the Paris Climate Agreement sidelines to undertake ambitious measures to combat global warming and climatic changes.
Mission Innovation consists of 24 countries and the European Union.
The mission seeks commitment from the member nations to double their clean energy innovation investments over five years in selected priority areas.
Each member independently determines the best use of its funding and defines its own Research & Development priorities and path to achieve the goal.
Its main aim is to enhance the public sector investment and collect funds through private sector engagement and investment.
By means of international cooperation, they are raising awareness of the transformational potential of innovation.
Innovation Challenges (IC):
The mission is facing major challenges to bring and implement effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy security, and create new opportunities for clean economic growth.
There are eight innovation challenges (ICs) under the mission innovation:
– Smart grids
– Off-grid access to electricity
– Carbon capture
– Sustainable biofuels
– Converting sunlight
– Clean energy materials
– Affordable cooling and heating of buildings
– Renewable and clean hydrogen
Mission Innovation 2.0:
To achieve the goal of accelerating innovation, all the member nations are on the same page to develop a second phase that includes:
Creation of enhanced Innovation Platform on current activities to consolidate the global clean energy innovation ecosystem and to speed up learning.
New public-private innovation ventures are to be built around ambitious and inspirational goals that can help reduce cost and increase the attractiveness of clean energy solutions.