See More on Facebook

News

China ‘gifts’ Sri Lanka 2 billion yuan

Sri Lanka and China have developed a close relationship over the past decade – so much so the Chinese national anthem was played out before the Sri Lankan anthem at a function.


Written by

Updated: :17+00

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena has announced to spend the 2 billion yuan “gifted” by China recently to launch a countrywide housing programme.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had on July 21 offered a grant of Rs 48 billion (US$295 million) to Sri Lanka to be utilised for a project of their choice.

Sirisena made the announcement at a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a Chinese-funded kidney hospital in his home constituency of Polonnaruwa, 230 km from the capital Colombo.

The President said Chinese ambassador Cheng Xueyuan to Sri Lanka had made the offer to him around a month ago, the Island reported. China wanted a proposal within a week, and Sirisena decided to utilise the entire grant to build houses in all administrative districts.

Sirisena said the proposal would be handed over to China and that Rs 1 million would be spent on each house.

The latest Chinese grant has come in the wake of allegations that China funded former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 2015 re-election. Sri Lanka Parliament had last week debated the accusations pertaining to the Chinese funding made to the tune of US$7.6 million to back Rajapaksa.

China has had a long relationship with Sri Lanka, an island off the southern tip of India, it was one of the first countries to come forward to rebuild Sri Lanka after a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009.

The civil war in Sri Lanka raged intermittently between 1983 and 2009 – fuelled in part by tensions between ethnic majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils. The fight against the government was led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a militant organisation founded by V Prabhakaran that sought to create an independent Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka. The government forces seized the last area controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels.

In recent years, Sri Lanka has been an active partner in China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the latter has been trying to expand its influence in the island nation to checkmate its economic rival India.

Ironically, Soon after Sirisena’s election in 2015, Sri Lanka had suspended a US$1.5-billion Chinese luxury real estate project and other Chinese-backed infrastructure projects started under Rajapaksa over suspected corruption.

The project had also raised security concerns in neighbouring India, which has uneasy relations with China, because it appears to be part of a larger plan by Beijing to expand its presence and influence in the Indian Ocean region.

However, a year later, perhaps buckling under debt, the Sirisena government has allowed Chinese projects to resume after introducing a few changes. China’s ambitious use of loans to gain influence around the world is well-known.

Sri Lanka and China have been thick friends since – so much so the Chinese national anthem was played out before the Sri Lankan anthem at a function.

“Many an eyebrow has been raised over a government decision to play the Sri Lankan national anthem after that of China, at a state festival, attended by President Maithripala Sirisena, on Saturday (July 21),” the Island reported.

In December last year, Sri Lanka handed over the control of the southern sea port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease for US$1.12 billion. Opposition leaders said the deal as a sell out to China, even as India articulated fears of China using the port for military purposes.

The island nation – Ceylon as it was called then – was ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch and then finally by the British for nearly 150 years till the country gained independence in 1948. It got its current name – Sri Lanka – in 1972.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Lamat R Hasan
About the Author: Lamat is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

News

Modi’s party unveils manifesto with something for everyone

BJP’s key pledges include housing for all by 2022 and the doubling of farmers’ incomes. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) yesterday unveiled a manifesto it said was inspired by the spirit of nationalism, in a bid to woo different segments of society just days before voters go to the polls. Populist pledges included doubling the income of farmers by 2022, social security in the form of pensions for small farmers and traders, and tax cuts for the middle class. The BJP also pledged full commitment to national security and a zero tolerance policy on terrorism. On Thursday, India kicks off a


By The Straits Times
April 11, 2019

News

Cloud Seeding: Why make it rain?

The South Korean government carried out its first artificial rain experiment of the year in late January. The trial was conducted by the Korea Meteorological Administration and the Ministry of Environment over the Yellow Sea. The results of this attempt were underwhelming, producing little more than a weak mist. Although the experiment has been reported as a “failure” the purpose of these operations isn’t necessarily to produce rain every time, but rather to acquire data, fine-tune the process and find out if artificial rain can even be reliably stimulated. The KMA carried out 12 experiments in 2018 and has 14 more trials planned for 2019. The data gathered by these trials will be used alongside information obtained from the 54 South Korean artificial rain experiments that h


By Quinn Libson
March 1, 2019

News

Southeast Asia rejects the world’s plastic waste

China’s ban on imports of plastic waste, the “National Sword Campaign” which went into effect in January of 2018, upended the global recycling industry. China has received as much as 106 million metric tons of plastics for processing since the United Nations first began gathering data on the phenomenon in 1992. That’s as much as 45-55 percent of the world’s plastic that made its way through China’s recycling pipeline. With that pipeline closed off, developed countries around the globe


By Quinn Libson
February 25, 2019

News

Southeast Asian elections will be defined by young voters

More than half of the population of Southeast Asia is under the age of 30. Therefore, it stands to reason that this segment of the population will have an outsized influence in coming political contests. Candidates across the region have their eyes turned toward capturing young votes, and that mission is having an affect on their platforms, and the way they campaign. Indonesia In Indonesia, Millennials make up nearly half of the electorate, and as such, candidates are working hard to woo young people. But, according to research it’s a tricky voter segment to pin down—and one that has traditionally been less politically engaged.


By Quinn Libson
February 18, 2019

News

Basic Income in India has been tried before

Is Rahul Gandhi’s basic income a ploy, history holds on a lesson. Speaking to a rally of farmers in Chhattisgarh on Monday, opposition candidate Rahul Gandhi announced that if his party is voted into power in the country’s upcoming national elections then it will introduce a Universal Basic Income of sorts. The “minimum income guarantee” would go out to every “poor person” in India—meaning those that fall within a minimum threshold level of income—and could potentially replace other government welfare systems: subsidies on food, fuel, etc. By the international standard set out by the World Bank, nearly 22 percent of the Indian population falls below the poverty line.


By Quinn Libson
January 31, 2019

News

India’s cyber legislation is part of a worrying trend

International technology firms face sweeping new regulations in India that have the potential to create major shifts in the country’s cyber landscape. The new pieces of legislation were proposed as 2018 came to a close and require technology companies like Facebook and Google to store user data locally, and would also require these companies to police content and remove material the government of India deems unlawful.  Such content would include messages that threaten the “sovereignty and integrity of India.” The rules requires these companies to take action on such messages within a 24 hour period. Such regulations that require companies to monitor content isn’t unique to India. Vietnam has recently passed similar laws, with similar potential consequences. New rules also mandate that companies reveal the origin of particular messages when that information is requested. If that section of t


By Quinn Libson
January 17, 2019