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China's acknowledgement of India’s help to SL signals its fears of being alienated?

8 months ago

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By SHANKHYANEEL SARKAR for News18 China earlier this week acknowledged that India took major steps in helping out its neighbor Sri Lanka amid the unprecedented economic crisis it is facing On Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian lauded India's efforts and said China is ready to partner India to further help Colombo navigate through this crisis. "We've taken note that the Indian government has also done a lot in this regard. We commend those efforts. China is ready to work with India and the rest of the international community to help Sri Lanka and other developing countries experiencing difficulty to pull through the hardship as early as possible," Lijian said. Gotabaya and Zhao both pointed out that Indian assistance to Sri Lanka was $3.5 billion this year by way of currency swaps, loan deferments and credit lines and also New Delhi's help in the form of medical aid, food shipments and essential medicines. The acknowledgement from Zhao likely signals that Beijing understands that the vacuum created by it will be filled by India as both nations engage in a geopolitical contest to lead Asia. Lijian's comments came in the same week (and two days after) Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa told news agency Bloomberg in an interview that India took unprecedented steps to help Sri Lanka mitigate the crisis. He also mentioned that China is not interested in helping out 'south Asian' countries like Sri Lanka and Pakistan for whom China is the biggest creditor - and is more interested in Cambodia, Vietnam and other nations in southeast Asia. "China shifted their strategic focus into Southeast Asia. They see more strategic interest in the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, that region, and Africa. I don't know whether I am right or wrong, even the focus on Pakistan has gone down," Gotabaya was quoted as saying. China earlier denied Pakistan loan financing but acquiesced to Islamabad's appeals earlier this month to help shore their forex reserves as economic conditions worsen. Sri Lanka also faced trouble accessing the $2.8 billion in assistance given by China as it requires Colombo to show adequate foreign reserves for three months. Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the parliament that he urged Beijing to consider reconsider that condition from the agreement. Source: News18