The Sri Lankan government yesterday rejected the assertion that it investigated a possible Chinese link in transferring arms, ammunition and equipment to the LTTE.
`There is absolutely no basis to suspect a Chinese link and we never did,` a senior official told The Island. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he expressed serious concern over the misrepresentation of facts.
During UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe`s recently concluded visit to Beijing, a senior Chinese official had discussed the issue at a meeting held on May 17. A statement issued by the Opposition Leader`s Office quoted the official as saying that an investigation conducted by the Sri Lanka embassy in Beijing and Foreign Ministry ruled out any Chinese link. The investigation was launched subsequent to an allegation that China armed the LTTE. Wickremesinghe was accompanied by Vajira Abeywardene, MP, Thalatha Gunasekera, MP and Theja Gunatilleke, the Acting Ambassador in Beijing.
Underscoring China`s continued support for Sri Lanka over the years, Wickremesinghe asserted that such an investigation was wholly unnecessary. He emphasized that the charge should be totally rejected. China also thanked the UNP for siding with China in the long standing disputes with Taiwan and Tibet while appreciating the UNP`s decision to boycott the recently held confab in Belgium in support of the Tibetan separatist movement.
Wickremesinghe`s visit came hot on the heels of President Mahinda Rajapakse`s State visit to Beijing.
Sri Lanka acted swiftly early this year after receiving what a military official termed as credible intelligence of an attempt by the LTTE to acquire Chinese armaments possibly through the Democratic Peoples` Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Island in exclusive reports headlined LTTE bid to tap top Lankan arms supplier foiled and Tigers` North Korean link bared carried on February 21, 2007 and March 5, 2007 respectively, revealed the move.
The DPRK had assured Sri Lanka that it would not support the LTTE. In a communiqué forwarded to Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi, DPRK embassy while assuring commitment to DPRK-Sri Lanka relations, claimed that the accusation was aimed at upsetting the six-party talks on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Sri Lanka sent a military delegation headed by a senior intelligence official to brief the Chinese of the LTTE strategy. `We simply shared intelligence with a friendly country,` a senior official said, emphasizing that Sri Lanka valued China`s long standing friendship. He stressed that Sri Lanka firmly stands by China in both the Taiwan and Tibet issues. In fact, during President Chandrika Kumaratunga`s tenure, Sri Lanka endorsed China`s right to use force to thwart Taiwan from gaining independence.
Since last September the Sri Lanka Navy destroyed four LTTE vessels carrying armaments on the high seas. The Maldivian Coast Guard destroyed a large mechanised boat last Thursday.