Monday, September 7, 2015

Chinese influence wanes on Sri Lanka’s shifting sands

Image from article, with caption: Sri Lankan artistes dance during a performance ahead of a China tourism expo in Colombo.

Chinese tourist footfall in Sri Lanka may have spiked in the last two years and overtaken the number of Indian tourists for the first time this July but Beijing’s influence in the emerald nation may be on the wane after former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat. ...
China has the money, the tack to use its finances efficiently and doesn’t ask too many questions about the internal political situations of a country – war crimes, in Sri Lanka’s case.
In contrast, India is far too deeply entangled in the country’s past, present and -- if New Delhi has its way – future. As a result, the island’s closest neighbour is both revered and reviled in equal measure. ...
[T]he new Lankan government will have to delicately balance China’s economic clout, India’s physical proximity, and close links and alliance with western countries.
“The new government will have to balance economic cooperation with China and political alliance with the West. On the Indian Ocean, New Delhi has a certain claim. China also understands there is no point in antagonising the new government,” Colombo University’s Jayadeva Uyangoda told HT.

Diplomats say Beijing has realised it should reach out to other political parties. One official told HT there has been “marked increase” in public diplomacy by Chinese diplomats, who are concerned ordinary Lankans view Chinese projects negatively.
China’s foreign affairs ministry says Beijing and Colombo enjoyed a long-term friendship and all cooperation was based on equality and mutual benefit. ...

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