With the aim to check India and fulfil its global aspirations, China has started to intensify defence relations with Sri Lanka. Beijing will provide military training and technology to Colombo, besides gifting a naval frigate to the Island nation. Sri Lanka has started to emerge as the new battleground for the two Asian Super-Powers, India and China.
Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported, after China leased the Hambantota Port from Sri Lanka, India was looking to acquire the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in the vicinity of the Hambantota Port. China’s control over the Hambantota Port raises security concerns for India and hence New Delhi is willing to buy stakes in the world’s emptiest airport and keep a bird’s eye view on China.
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According to report in Indian Media Senior Colonel Xu Jianwei, an official at the Chinese Embassy in Colombo, said Beijing will continue providing training programmes to the Sri Lankan defence forces and will complete work on a Chinese-funded auditorium at the military academy. China will also gift a frigate to the Sri Lankan Navy to deepen bilateral relations
China has provided powerful support to the social-economic development and military and defence construction of Sri Lanka,” Xu said.
“In the past few years, two militaries have witnessed the enhancing dialogue and collaboration in defence training and maritime security” he added.
Xu, speaking at an event to mark the 91st anniversary of the founding of China’s People’s Liberation Army, did not reveal any specifications about the frigate, but it’s the latest exchange in Beijing and Colombo’s deepening defence relationship.
“It was Beijing’s support to the Rajapaksa government during their military campaign against the LTTE in the late 2000s that initiated the commencement of Chinese investments and influence in the country,” said Jeff Smith, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. That Chinese aid came after the US ended direct military assistance over Sri Lanka’s poor human-rights record.
President Rajapaksa, in office between 2005 and 2015, nourished relations with China, including a 2013 deal that saw Beijing render $2.2 billion in funding and defence technology and training. Rajapaksa was heavily criticized for debts incurred by the Chinese government, which also reportedly funded his most recent election campaign.