Sri Lankan prime minister embarks on four day visit to India

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will arrive in India today to discuss security and trade with Indian Prime Minister

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Photo: PTI

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will arrive in India today to discuss security and trade with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The leaders will finalise infrastructure projects funded by a $450 million line of credit extended from India as part of New Delhi’s recent effort to combat China’s economic largess in Sri Lanka. The small country has emerged as a battleground for competing Chinese and Indian influences due to its proximity to India and maritime trade routes.

During Rajapaksa’s reign as president (2005-2015), China invested millions into Sri Lankan infrastructure, often funding risky projects with high-interest loans. In 2017, Sri Lanka’s failure to make debt payments forced Colombo to cede a major port to Chinese control.

Rajapaksa’s visit may signify a conscious gravitation away from China and towards India, the country’s traditional ally. With Sri Lanka’s economy reeling from terrorist attacks and in serious debt, Rajapaksa is eager to attract external funding, yet is wary of increasing reliance on Beijing. However, China will not abandon millions in investments in Sri Lanka, and likely will offer enticing financial packages to draw Rajapaksa’s attention back to Beijing.

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