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  • Writer's pictureAsanga Abeyagoonasekera


Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Teardrop Diplomacy’ launched in Sri Lanka 30th October 2023

‘Teardrop Diplomacy’ was launched in Sri Lanka with the presence of the Leader of the Opposition in Sri Lanka Hon. Sajith Premadasa, Dr Jehan Perera at National Peace Council, and Sankhitha Gunaratne at Transparency Int. I thank all panelists for their valuable and insightful reviews of the book. I thank the participants for the questions and Savithri Sellapperumage who was the compère of the event. The book is distributed by Sarasavi Bookshop (Pvt) Ltd and published by Bloomsbury India ,30th Oct 2023

India's 'Chanakya Defence Dialogue' launched by Centre for Land Warfare Studies(CLAWS), 3rd Nov 2023

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera was initiated by the Indian Army and Centre for Land Warfare Studies(CLAWS) for the first edition of the Chanakya Defence Dialogue in New Delhi, India. Mr.Abeyagoonasekera presented a paper on “Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy: Navigating India and China” at the inaugural session. New Delhi, Manekshaw Centre, 3rd Nov 2023

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera presents at Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, 17th October 2023

At the 3rd Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Asanga Abeyagoonasekera presented a research paper on ‘Building a Shared Future from BRI: Revisiting the Asian Regional Order with Sustainability & Synergy’. Mr Abeyagoonasekera said “Spirit of Bandung could be revisited with ‘Shared Future’ and ‘Vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ concepts to draw an Asian regional order. Therefore, a shared future will have a special meaning and resonance in Asia, especially from the global south”. The research paper was published by Xinhua Institute Journal. (17 Oct 2023, Beijing)

Sri Lankan Young Global Leader conducts workshop on “China’s Shared Future” in China, 27 June 2023

Pic: Asanga Abeyagoonasekera conducting the workshop on “China’s Shared Future” in Tianjin

The 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions of the World Economic Forum, “Summer Davos,” was held in Tianjin on 27-30th June. On 27th June, Mr Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, a Young Global Leader from Sri Lanka and the present Executive Director at South Asia Foresight Network(SAFN) under Millennium Project in Washington DC, conducted a workshop on “China’s Shared Future” where three areas were discussed: China building a “Shared Future for the mankind”; Contribution to economic and Infrastructure development (BRI); Peace and Security on Global Security Initiative(GSI). The session focused on how the global community might help China improve its processes through best practices and international norms to drive progress towards mutually beneficial outcomes. There were close to 1500 participants from around the world who participated in the conference in Tianjin.

Book Talk at FRS Paris | 15 June 2023

Book talk at FRS - Fondation pour la recherche stratégique in Paris on ‘Teardrop Diplomacy’ published by Bloomsbury. Moderated by Dr. Gilles Boquerat from FRS

20th June 2023 in Paris | Panel Discussion

SESSION 3 - Who’s behind multilateralism in the Indo-Pacific? Practitioner perspectives on regional cooperation in Paris - Link

Moderated by Marianne Peron

Dr André Gattolin, Senate François Devoto, Naval Group CDR Alexis Gollnisch, French Navy

‘Teardrop Diplomacy’ Book Discussion at the National Press Club in Washington DC, May 19th 2023

“Chinese Strategic trap in Sri Lanka”, warns Senior Research Fellow.

“There is a deliberate Strategic Trap in Sri Lanka by China,” says the author Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, a Senior Research Fellow at the Millennium Project in

Washington, DC. The book discussion on ‘Teardrop Diplomacy: China’s Sri Lanka Foray’ was held on May 19th, 2023 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

From Left: Poonam Sharma, Jerome C. Glenn, Asanga Abeyagoonasekera and Jeffery S. Payne.

The panel discussion was Chaired by Ms. Poonam Sharma, Editor in Chief of Global Strat View, Dr Jeffery S. Payne from the Near East and South Asia(NESA) Center at National Defence University and Jerome Glenn, CEO of the Millennium Project.

The ‘Strategic Trap’ is beyond the ‘Debt Trap’, with considerable Political funding by China to capture the country’s elites, human rights and military/security support. Before the Chinese spy balloons appeared in the US, a Chinese Spy Ship visited Sri Lanka, which was ignored. The authorities ignored multiple warnings flagged by the author months before the political-economic crisis. The research carried out for the book during the 2019-2022 period captures a significant China tilt in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy, where the sibling regime of Rajapaksa’s rule turned the democratic nation towards an autocracy. Sri Lankan president ousted by the people’s uprising in 2022 had previously installed a heavy military control government with centralized power with numerous human rights abuse towards minority communities and rampant corruption. The distinguished panellists explained that US, Indian and Japanese projects were tuned down under the false pretext of national security. There was a comparison with similar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries such as Pakistan and Solomon Island going through Sri Lanka’s Chinese experience with large borrowings, non-transparent agreements and opaque loans developing white elephant projects with no return to pay back the Chinese borrowings were captured in the book. The book was published by Bloomsbury and is now available at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC.

Book talk at Lee Kuan Yew School in Singapore

,May 13th 2023

Book discussion ‘Teardrop Diplomacy’ with Prof Kanti Bajpai at @lkyspp @bloomsburyindia #singapore #srilanka

Book launch ‘Teardrop Diplomacy’ in New Delhi

09 May 2023, New Delhi:

Bloomsbury India in collaboration with India International Centre hosted an insightful discussion around Teardrop Diplomacy: China’s Sri Lanka Foray. The panellists comprised of C Raja Mohan (Senior Fellow, Asia Society Policy Institute), Smruti S Pattanaik (Senior Fellow, Manohar Parikkar Institute for Defence Studies), Rajeswari Rajagopalan (Director, CSST, ORF) and the author Asanga Abeyagoonasekera (Senior Fellow, Millennium Project). The event was moderated by Amb. Ashok K. Kantha (Diplomat and former Ambassador of India to China)

Speaking at the event, Amb. Kantha emphasised that how this volume highlights the glaring acts of omissions and commissions that has landed Sri Lanka into dire straits despite its impressive human development endowments and achievements. This could perhaps be ascribed to the entrenched greed and corruption within Sri Lanka’s political ranks and the lack of accountability that has touched new heights post-civil war period.

Asanga Abeyagoonesekera presented his perspective on how the political actors constructed a false narrative of fear of losing sovereignty at the hands of Western power and allowed China to sideload its presence in lieu of political funding to gain electoral perpetuity. In this process, the state actors altered democratic model, brought unwarranted structural changes to the constitution, and committed rampant human rights abuses which has resulted in further deteriorating country’s functional stability.

Focussing on China’s evolving foreign policy, C Raja Mohan praised the book saying, “it gives us an interface of the extraordinary turbulence that are shaking South Asia today and what Asanga has tried to highlight about Sri Lanka, is pretty much the struggle story every South Asian nation is facing in the wake of China’s overbearing presence”.

Smruti S. Pattanaik explained the need of heavy investments that were required for infra and institutional growth in Sri Lanka especially post-civil war period and how China was more than willing to play the role of all-weather lender and thereby enabling Sri Lanka’s complete economic dependence on China.

Rajeswari Rajagopalan walked the audience through the case problem of how island nation’s overdependence on China’s economic doles has impacted the domestic political scene despite the rhetoric of balanced approach and nonaligned approach.

Published by Bloomsbury India, the book consists of a clutch of essays that trace Sri Lanka’s recent journey from the rise of the Rajapaksa regime in 2019 to the present crisis in 2022 and explain how the nation moved from a democratic country to a full-scale autocratic, militarized nation.

Abuse of Power and Economic Crime are the main causes of the Political-Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera speaking at the 39th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, Cambridge University UK, 6th September 2022

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Senior Fellow at the Millennium Project in Washington DC and former founding Director General of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka(INSSSL) was invited to deliver a presentation on ‘Sri Lanka’s political-economic crisis; abuse of power and economic crime’ by the prestigious Cambridge University in the United Kingdom for the 39th International Symposium on Economic Crime on the 6th September 2022. More than 600 experts including senior policymakers, academics and bureaucrats from more than 100 nations participated in the symposium.

In his remarks, Mr Abeyagoonasekera highlighted that “Sri Lankan people have lost trust with the policymakers in subsequent governments due to lies, the honesty and integrity is a question in Sri Lankan politics, where people have identified corruption as the principal cause of poverty and the recent economic crisis. The promise to the public of prosecuting insider trading on the central bank bond scam, one of the largest economic crimes committed in recent years was shelved. The significant democratic backsliding with family rule and rampant corruption was a conducive environment established by the regime for economic crime in Sri Lanka. In some developing countries, it probably amounts to a large fraction of the Gross National Product and Sri Lanka is a clear case study in this regard. The paper presented three propositions on economic crime in Sri Lanka. First, the monopolistic structure of the government, crippled the institutional processes, a clear determinant of the level of corruption triggering the political-economic crisis. Second, the government protects the political elites and their associates to engage in insider crime. Insider knowledge attained from political connections. A case study will be explained on Central Bank Bond Scandal. Third, a broader transnational mechanism and pressure must be applied to vulnerable nations that have become victims of democratic backsliding. The foremost tool and target of elite domination are the state’s extractive systems, which have been moulded and configured by Sri Lanka’s elites over decades. The elite capture has become a significant factor and is the reason why no proper investigation was ever done and no higher politician or their financiers was ever prosecuted for corruption. Sri Lanka’s authoritarian model exercised by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa reduced competitive mode and shifted towards a monopolistic corruption structure, centralizing on family and military rule and powerful elites supporting them. There was a special reference to China in Sri Lanka, some of the extractive measures and large-scale corruption. The elites working with Chinese infrastructure projects have impacted government foreign policy. China is not the only factor in Sri Lankan economic crisis but a significant factor. The new leadership in Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremasinghe has completely ignored Institutional forbearance, which means refraining from actions that would undermine the spirit of democracy — even if the act is technically legal or not prohibited by the constitution. Due to this, the legitimacy of his presidency is a question to many in the general public. There will not be any investigations on central bank insider crimes committed in the past, since the crime was committed by his political supporters and financiers, the affluent elites. There will not be any investigations on Rajapaksa’s also due to his dependency on parliament support by Rajapaksa political party. While domestic measures will fail to curb corruption and bring the autocratic, dysfunctional regime to follow some accountability measures, the international community can assist through a transnational mechanism that is already available such as Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).”

Read the full paper published by Emerald Journal of Financial Crime

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