Chinese Kung Fu

Twenty five Chinese Kung Fu monks of the Shaolin Temple fame are in town to entertain Sri Lankans on account of the 60th anniversary of Sino-Lanka diplomatic ties, we are told. Their final show is scheduled to be held next Monday at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre. Shaolin monks are capable of astonishing feats. Some of them even bend solid steel bars with their heads. There is a video of one of them throwing a needle through a pane of glass.

This comment, however, is not about Shaolin Temple martial arts. Instead, it is on the Chinese diplomatic Kung Fu, as it were. One of the most effective slogans the present-day yahapalana leaders employed to turn public opinion against the Rajapaksa government and, thereby, capture power, in 2015, was that Sri Lanka was being fast turned into a Chinese colony. They promised to play a messianic role and save the country.

No sooner had the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government been formed than it suspended the Chinese-funded Port City project and started faulting China for having granted the Rajapaksa government loans at exorbitant interest rates. The first Finance Minister of the yahapalana administration harped on what he called extremely high interest rates on loans from China so much that he received a diplomatic chop from the Chinese envoy, here, known for megaphone diplomacy. The latter floored the former in style, so to speak, by demanding to know if the interest rates were so high why the incumbent government had asked for another loan from China.

The Chinese diplomatic Kung Fu has helped tame the yahapalana government whether one likes it or not. China has not only regained the Port City but also gained the Hambantota Port plus thousands of acres abutting it as a bonus. The Port City has now become the jewel of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration’s Megapolis crown. Moreover, permission has been granted for a bigger land to be reclaimed from the sea for the project. It was cringe-making to see the cantankerous politicians who vowed to liberate the country from the clutches of China, savouring Chinese delicacies and spirits at the recent opening of Colombo Shangri-La, which, too, has got more prime urban land from the present government.

So, three years on, the Chinese diplomatic Kung Fu has been so effective that government grandees are expected to gather in their numbers to watch Shaolin Temple martial arts display at the Chinese-built Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre, of all places, with the Lotus Tower, being constructed by the Chinese, seen in the background. That tower, in fact, looks a lotus bud, which incidentally is the symbol of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), backed by ‘pro-Chinese’ former President Mahinda Rajapaksa!

In the early 15th Century, a piqued Chinese General came all the way here to abduct the then Sinhala king and his family; he took them to China. Historians believe the Ming Dynasty evinced a keen interest in the affairs of this country. (That interest has apparently remained unabated all these centuries!) The Chinese Emperor released the king but installed a puppet ruler here. Today, the Chinese don’t resort to aggression. Instead, they use loans and diplomatic Kung Fu to turn rulers into puppets.

Perhaps, the Chinese, being fast learners, seem to have adopted India’s Dixit method to deal with Sri Lankan leaders. Time was when some Sri Lankans didn’t have so high an opinion of the intelligence of the Chinese; they used to tell those who tried to tell them tall tales to go tell them to the Chinese with chignons—konde bendapu Cheennunta owa kiyapan. But, times have changed and the Chinese have outsmarted even the white man who used to think no end of himself. Today, the Chinese must be asking those who tell them fish tales to go tell them to clean-shaven yahapalana leaders.

China has used diplomatic Kung Fu so effectively here that some yahapalana leaders are seen holding massive dummy cheques at public functions like ‘Super Stars’, having leased state assets to Chinese buyers, who are grinning from ear to ear.

Enjoy Chinese Kung Fu—from a safe distance!


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