Is China Abandoning the Rajapaksa Brothers in Sri Lanka?

The ongoing widespread protests in Sri Lanka seeking resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa seems to have shaken up the strong support that China has been providing to the Rajapaksa brothers in the country.

China has aligned with the Rajapaksa’s and more importantly President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who had special links with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officials given his long tenure as the Defence Secretary at a crucial time in the civil war against the LTTE, when China provided substantial military assistance. That was the building block that saw China celebrating when, “old boy Goty,” became the president.

During the tenure of elder brother of the President and current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the head of the state, several Chinese projects including the Hambantota port had been finalized.

There appears to be a subtle shift in the Chinese approach given political turbulence in Sri Lanka with multiple protests in the recent past and the calls of “Go Gota Go,” seeking he President’s resignation getting louder.

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On April 09, thousands of Sri Lankans from various parts of the Island marched to the Presidential Secretariat in the capital Colombo demanding the resignation of President Rajapaksa and his government and there is a move to summon one million people to Colombo demanding the resignation of the President.

A Report in the Colombo Page indicated that the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka quoting its Twitter account stated that the Ambassador and other officials called on leaders of political parties and donated food & essentials packs to be distributed to about 10,000 low-income people for the upcoming Sinhala & Tamil New Year.

The packages of food and essential items, each worth Rs. 5000 have been provided to 16 political parties by the International Department of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese Embassy said in a tweet.

“As Sinhala & Tamil New Year approaching, the Int'l Department of the Communist Party of #China donates food & essentials packs (Rs. 5,000 each) to about 10,000 low-income Sri Lankan families through 16 Sri Lankan political parties,” the Embassy tweeted.

Ambassador QI Zhenhong called on former President and Leader of Sri Lanka Freedom party (SLFP) Maithripala Sirisena conveyed his new year greetings and handed over a batch of festival gift packs donated by CPC to be handed over to the needy people said the Colombo page report.

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Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of Mission Hu Wei called on former Prime Minister and Leader of the United National Party (UNP) Ranil Wickremesinghe today and extending best wishes for the coming new year handed over a batch of food & essentials packs donated by the CPC Chinese

Ambassador QI Zhenhong Friday (08) handed over the first batch of the gift packs to the people of Dehiwala and Mount Lavinia through the local Municipal Council in collaboration with Sri Lanka Podujana Party as per the Colombo page.

These moves maybe that the Chinese are not necessarily abandoning the Rajapaksa’s but only broad basing their political relations given the current developments and preparing for options as they emerge rather than putting all their, “eggs in one basket”.