If you can’t win them, buy them - Sri Lanka's Balancing Act

Even before the heat died down after the New York Times report on June 25, 2018, about China’s financial support to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s campaign during 2015 presidential election, Chinese have announced “gift” of $295 million (SL Rs 48 billion) to Sri Lanka for spending on a project of its choosing. President Sirisena said the money would be spent on a countrywide housing programme for building houses in all administrative districts at the cost of SL Rs one million per house. It is significant that the Chinese grant has been made when Sri Lanka is poised to hold provincial council elections. This grant would appear to be part of China’s strategy – ‘if you can’t win them buy them.’ Work on the construction of another ‘gift’ from China – the 200-bed National Nephrology Hospital - in Polonnaruwa has also started. ...........On the other hand, it was evident that the Sri Lanka government was trying to balance its relations with India. A proposal to develop the loss-making Mattala international airport as a joint venture with Airports Authority of India (AAI) is underway. Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said 70 per cent stake of the joint stock company to be formed for the operation of the airport would go to AAI and 30 per cent to the Sri Lanka government..................... [850 Words]

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