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China's Xi offers fresh $295 million grant to Sri Lanka
« on: July 24, 2018, 03:23:41 PM »
China's Xi offers fresh $295 million grant to Sri Lanka
Reuters Staff
JULY 22, 2018 / 3:00 AM / 3 DAYS AGO

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping has offered Sri Lanka a fresh grant of 2 billion yuan ($295 million), as Beijing looks to expand its influence in the tiny island country off India’s southern tip.

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The grant offer comes at a time when a Chinese firm is facing heavy criticism for allegedly financing the last election campaign of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Last month, the New York Times reported that China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) gave $7.6 million for Rajapaksa’s re-election bid, which he lost to Sirisena in early 2015.

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Sirisena had at the start of his term suspended most of the Chinese-backed infrastructure projects started under Rajapaksa over suspected corruption, overpricing and for flouting government procedures.

But more than a year later, the Sirisena government allowed Chinese projects to resume after a few changes in some of them.


China was among the first countries that stepped in to help the reconstruction of Sri Lanka after a 26-year-long civil war ended in 2009.

China and Sri Lanka have traditionally been friends and China has provided assistance according to Sri Lanka’s development needs, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Monday.

“The relevant assistance does not come attached with any political conditions and is for the benefit of the Sri Lankan people,” Geng said, without directly referring to the 2 billion yuan pledge Sirisena announced over the weekend.

However, many of China’s projects, backed by loans from its government and initiated under Rajapaksa, have faced opposition in Sri Lanka amid concerns raised by the United States, India and Japan that China might use Sri Lanka as a military base.

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« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 05:47:47 AM by adroth »