China and India vie for greater influence in Sri Lanka through massive infrastructural projects
China and India are investing heavily in Sri Lanka’s infrastructural projects in attempts to increase their influence.
With changing global dynamics where the emerging world is gaining greater clout than developed nations, it is safe to say that no good deed is without an ulterior motive. That is why as ribbons are being cut for infrastructural projects backed by Chinese and Indian investments in Sri Lanka, analysts are skeptical of the populous giants’ intentions for rebuilding a recently war-torn nation.
In 2009, Sri Lanka emerged victorious in the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The raw end of the deal was the immense destruction and damage, the result of 25 years of havoc caused by tanks, fighter jets and other weaponry. But the silver lining was that help was only a few miles away. The Chinese and Indians are more than willing to help reboot the infrastructure and prop up the Sri Lankan economy through various projects.
Recently, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan president, inaugurated Sri Lanka’s second international airport. The project – a $209 million venture – is supported and funded by China’s Export-Import (EXIM) Bank. Not very far from it is the Hambantota Port - a key shipping route, which sees hundreds of oil tankers passing through every day. Once again, the $1 billion project is funded by the oriental giant. An extension of the railway line, for which further loans have been announced by China, is also on the cards. But that is not where Chinese help for the nation stops. Between 2007 and 2011, with a generous aid of $2.126 billon to the island nation, China became the largest foreign aid provider for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s first communication satellite was launched last year, unsurprisingly, in partnership with a Chinese stateowned space technology firm. A $100 million Lotus Tower in Colombo, the reconstruction of the A9 high- way connecting Kandy with Jaffna, a coal power project in Puttalam, and a container terminal project in Colombo, are all symbolic of China’s generous helping hand for the nation.
Of course, India is not expected to sit idle and watch as its political rival continues to extend its influence in a country much closer to the Indian borderline than any other. In a not-so-insignificant project, India will help build 43,000 houses in Sri Lan-