November 27, 2012
Credit: Credit: Wikipedia
Sri Lanka launched its first communications satellite on Tuesday in partnership with a Chinese state-owned space technology firm, the Sri Lanka partner said, adding to unease in neighbouring India about Beijing’s growing ties with the island nation.
The Sri Lankan government has emphasized the launch was a private effort, carried out by SupremeSAT (Pvt) Ltd and the China Great Wall Industry Corp. But Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s youngest son, Rohitha, has been credited in domestic media as the creator of the satellite.
Vijith Peiris, chief executive of SupremeSAT, told Reuters in Colombo that the launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in western China was successful.
The joint launch marked the latest in a series of economic and military ties between the two countries, a relationship that is being closely watched by India.
“It reinforces the impression that Sri Lanka is getting slowly but surely closer to China,” said Brahma Chellaney, an analyst at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi.
“From a larger geopolitical perspective, it sends a message to India that a country in its own backyard is cozying up with China.”
Economic and strategic rivals China and India fought a brief, high-altitude border war in 1962 and still have contested regions, though the defence relationship has improved.
Rhetoric flared anew recently after China issued a new passport with a map that shows two disputed border areas as Chinese territory. India responded by stamping its own map on visas it issues to holders of the Chinese passports.