Sri Lanka’s President Loses an Election—and China Loses an Ally – Businessweek

China has spared no effort to make friends with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The island nation has more than $4 billion worth of Chinese-backed investments, including a $1.4 billion project now under construction of offices, hotels, apartment buildings, and shopping centers on reclaimed land in Colombo that is the largest foreign investment in the country’s history. The leading provider of loans to Sri Lanka, China is also financing a $1.3 coal power plant and $1 billion highway.

Supporters of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on January 8, 2015 in Colombo, Sri Lanka

For Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited in September, cozying up to Rajapaksa has been a twofer. Building a Chinese presence in the country helps further Xi’s ambitions to build a “maritime Silk Road” expanding China’s reach in the Indian Ocean.

At the same time, China’s expansion in the Indian Ocean country has provided a useful way to irritate Sri Lanka’s big neighbor and China’s regional rival: India. China and India have a longstanding border dispute, and China has been eager to take down India a notch by focusing on Sri Lanka and other small countries that have traditionally been in India’s sphere of influence. India, for instance, was displeased last year when two Chinese submarines docked at a Chinese-funded port terminal in Colombo.

via Sri Lanka’s President Loses an Election—and China Loses an Ally – Businessweek.

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