Sri Lanka is Now Turning to China to Combat the Economic Crisis
Sri Lanka and Human Rights Researcher,
Global Human Rights Defence.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused an economic crisis. The ban on fertiliser in agricultural production in 2021 caused a shortage of food. Now, Sri Lankan prime minister Rajapaksa enters negotiations with China to be involved in their Belt and Road initiative to improve the economic situation (AP, 2022).
On Jan 9th, the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and prime minister Rajapaksa met to discuss potential Chinese developments in the small island nation (AP, 2022). The Belt and Road initiative is a multi-billion dollar project initiated by China in 2013 to create a railway path and a maritime route from eastern China to Western Europe. An inclusion of Sri Lanka in the Chinese initiative would mean an expansion of China’s territory of influence and a potential improvement in the Sri Lankan economy.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka has been left weak and indebted. With an almost complete stop of tourism, the people were not ready to handle the sudden soaring of food prices
Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced on Twitter after the meeting that he had had a ‘very pleasant meeting’ with Mr. Wang (The Hindu, 2022). He further credited China for being supportive of Sri Lanka through the 65 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries (The Hindu, 2022).
Sources and further reading:
China foreign minister in Sri Lanka to discuss Belt and Road, 9 January 2022, https://apnews.com/article/business-china-beijing-sri-lanka-africa-e6b1e60b2a1aab035bcc6e65ebe507b7
Chinese FM Wang Yi meets Sri Lanka PM Rajapaksa; discusses promoting investment, tourism, 9 January 2022, https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/sri-lanka-prime-minister-mahinda-rajapaksa-and-chinese-foreign-minister-sign-several-agreements-in-colombo/article38201609.ece