November 27, 2012 - 15:56 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Sri Lanka launched its first communications satellite on Tuesday, Nov 27 in partnership with a Chinese state-owned space technology firm, the Sri Lanka partner said, adding to unease in neighboring India about Beijing's growing ties with the island nation, Reuters reported.
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.
Economic and strategic rivals China and India fought a brief, high-altitude border war in 1962 and still have contested regions, though the defense 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.
China has been the largest lender to Sri Lanka, a $59 billion economy, since the end of a three-decade civil war ended in May 2009. China had provided military equipment to the Sri Lankan government to defeat ethnic Tamil rebels.
Since then, Sri Lanka has sought stronger defense ties with China, a fact that has irked India and the United States.