China-Sri Lanka Relations

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  • Vaibhav Dabas asked: What are the Chinese strategic interests in Sri Lanka and what are its implications for India?

    Gulbin Sultana replies: China under President Xi Jinping seeks to reach out to overseas markets and promote new sources of growth for its economy. Xi Jinping’s vision of a global free trade regime and open world economy includes efforts to enhance connectivity between Asian and African continents and their adjacent seas for free flow of trade.

    Sri Lanka–China Fiasco over Shipment of Contaminated Fertiliser

    Chinese reaction to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Agriculture’s decision to cancel an organic fertiliser deal has demonstrated that China is not hesitant to take punitive action against Sri Lanka, if its interests are not fulfilled.

    February 10, 2022

    The Geopolitics of Power Configuration in South Asia: Understanding Chinese Defence Minister’s Visit to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

    Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe’s visit to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka highlights Beijing’s deepening security engagement with South Asian countries.

    June 02, 2021

    Post Doklam, India needs to watch China’s bullish economics led cultural embrace of South Asia

    Doklam brought into perspective the fractured relationship between India and China on the global stage and increased fears of China’s growing unilateralism as it inexorably broadens its interests and sphere of influence, especially in South Asia.

    January 01, 2018

    New Hambantota Port Deal: China Consolidates its Stakes in Sri Lanka

    While the agreement remains controversial, China is likely to consolidate its presence and Sri Lanka likely to get deeper into the Chinese debt trap even though it has gained temporary relief through the equity for debt swap.

    August 14, 2017

    Sri Lanka after Rajapaksa: Can it Ignore China?

    Since the fall of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, there has been an apparent foreign policy shift in Sri Lanka. There is a growing view that the new National Unity Government (NUG), which came to power in January 2015 with Maithripala Sirisena as President, has shown its proclivities towards India and the US and moved away from China, especially under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

    July 2016

    Praveen CV asked: How Sri Lanka’s denial of Chinese ‘string of pearls’ policy and its claim that Chinese presence in Hambantota harbour is for economic or developmental purpose is to be viewed?

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies: The Chinese engagement, presently, is based mainly on infrastructure development and improvement of diplomatic ties, thereby availing of the facilities available for extending what could be called its “Look West Policy”. As far as Hambantota being part of the string of pearls is concerned, it would depend on how the Chinese use it and to what extent Sri Lanka would permit it to be used. In this regard, the establishment of a Chinese military base in the port of Hambantota is far fetched and in today’s scenario extra-regional presence and economic strangleholds does not seem realistic. The pressures that a nation would have to face after inviting a foreign military presence would be tremendous. The establishment of a Chinese military base would imply a form of alliance that most nations, especially small island nations like Sri Lanka, would like to avoid. There are several economic and security implications involved both at the regional and wider international level.

    However, the port of Hambantota would be an asset for the Chinese as it would be a major facility for refuelling and resupply of Chinese vessels half way along the SLOCs en route from the Malacca Straits to the choke points in northwest Indian Ocean Region (IOR), namely the Gulf of Aden, Bab-el-Mandeb, the Suez Canal and the Straits of Hormuz. Hambantota would also grant the Chinese the ability to turn south and enter the Indian Ocean.

    Therefore, Hambantota, as of now, could be viewed as a stepping stone for the Chinese to increase their presence in the IOR. A lot would depend on how the relations between Sri Lanka and India either grow or diminish in view of increased Chinese economic engagements in the region.

    China to Launch Satellite for Sri Lanka: India’s Missed Opportunity?

    India has much to learn from China with regard to using space as an ‘instrument of influence’ and also needs to expand the global footprint of its expertise.

    November 16, 2012

    Islandic Hop Scotch in the Indian Ocean Region

    The island hopping game being played out is an indication of China’s strategy for gaining access to the IOR by developing the capabilities of “reach”, “presence” and “sustainability”.

    December 15, 2011