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China-Sri Lanka relationsi

China has ploughed huge sums into Sri Lankan infrastructure projects, becoming the country's biggest foreign financier and enjoying significant political and even military influence. China's growing influence over recent years has also been a source of disquiet in regional rival India, which has long regarded the neighbouring island as within its natural sphere of influence. But when Sri Lankan voters unexpectedly turfed out President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an election in January 2015, it was a major setback for China, which has been accused of seeking to develop facilities around the Indian Ocean in a "string of pearls" strategy to counter the rise of India and secure its own economic interests. 

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  • Chinese vice-minister and Sri Lankan foreign secretary reaffirm commitment to Beijing’s infrastructure plan as island country battles economic crisis
  • In addition to port projects in Colombo and Hambantota, China will expand cooperation in finance, investment, energy, logistics and tourism
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The project, described as South Asia’s largest logistics hub, will take China Merchants Group’s investment in Sri Lanka to US$2 billion.

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Parliament is having a 3-day debate on IMF debt restructuring programme. If approved, the plan would dictate how Sri Lanka’s crisis-stricken economy will be managed in the coming years.

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Debt-relief talks for other vulnerable nations have stalled recently, with the main sticking point being a disagreement between China and traditional lenders led by the US.

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Sri Lanka has been waiting since September for the IMF loan, which would give it foreign exchange funds to purchase sorely-needed goods and ease inflation.

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Sri Lanka is ‘on track’ to meet IMF requirements, will reach out to lender to affirm whether assurances are enough to set in motion the bailout programme

Sri Lanka requires the backing of both China and India – its biggest bilateral lenders – to reach an agreement with the IMF on a loan that is essential to help the country emerge from its worst financial crisis in seven decades.

Bankrupt island nation needs massive injection of International Monetary Fund cash as it continues to battle economic crisis, but needs assurances from other countries before loan programme can be agreed.

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It’s been six months since Gotabaya Rajapaksa escaped his beleaguered nation for a few weeks of calm and PM Wickremasinghe became its president – but with the Rajapaksa clan still around, experts wonder how much power Wickremasinghe really has.

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More than US$1 billion worth of deals are on the table as New Delhi looks to balance Beijing’s infrastructure investments with a Sri Lankan port – and power projects – of its own.

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More than one-third of the island nation’s families are going hungry. Its economy is shrinking. But Colombo can’t get its bailout until Beijing gives it financing assurances.

Talks between Beijing and Colombo over a free-trade agreement that began in 2014 have resumed ‘at an official level’, according to Sri Lankan ambassador to China, Palitha Kohona.

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China says it has outperformed other G20 members in helping the world’s poorer nations deal with the impact of the coronavirus, but a lack of transparency has made it difficult to assess the level of support, analysts said.

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The 350-metre (1,150-foot) Lotus Tower built for an estimated US$113 million has been plagued by corruption claims since construction began in 2012 under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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And it’s not just China. The World Bank estimates Japan accounts for US$3.5 billion and India US$1 billion of Sri Lanka’s US$63 billion external debt. Beijing’s lending adds up to an estimated US$7 billion.

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Indian trawlers often illegally poach in Sri Lanka’s waters; now a China-owned venture has been helping Sri Lankan fishermen to cultivate sea cucumbers, instead of heading out to sea.

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A welcoming party at the airport was a sign of his enduring influence despite fleeing to Singapore then Thailand, where he ‘has been living as a virtual prisoner and was keen to return’.

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Gotabaya Rajapaksa has recently been living in a ‘Thai hotel as a virtual prisoner’ after fleeing Sri Lanka in July in the wake of massive protests.

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India and China traded insults over their diverging interests in Sri Lanka, after a controversial Chinese scientific research ship called at the island nation despite New Delhi’s security concerns.

China’s lack of overseas military bases means it prefers dual-use assets that afford low profile defence and intelligence-related activities, says analyst.

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