Indian Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Mukand Naravane has reached Colombo amid increasing Chinese interference in Sri Lanka. Just a week ago, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had visited Sri Lanka. During his four-day visit, General Naravane will also meet Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He will also discuss enhancing bilateral defense cooperation between the two countries during his interaction with Sri Lankan military officials. India’s concerns about China’s increasing investment in Sri Lanka have also increased. China is also trying to increase its presence in the Indian Ocean through this country.
Indian Army Chief was given a grand welcome
General Naravane was accorded a grand welcome in Colombo at the invitation of Sri Lankan Army Chief General Shavendra Silva. General Shavendra Silva himself was present to receive him at the airport. The Indian Army tweeted that General Naravane arrived in Sri Lanka and was warmly received at the airport by the Chief of Defense Staff and Commander of the Sri Lankan Army, General Shavendra Silva.
General Naravane arrived a week after Foreign Secretary’s visit to Sri Lanka
General Naravane’s visit to Sri Lanka comes just a week after Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit. During this, Shringla met the top leadership of Sri Lanka. The Indian Foreign Secretary had also thanked President Rajapaksa for his guidance and close cooperation in the defense and security sector during his visit. The two countries are also working together on several bilateral projects.
Sri Lanka assuring India of security of investment
Sri Lanka’s new High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda had said a few days ago that India’s security interests will not be affected by China’s increasing investment. He also claimed that no foreign factor was responsible for the slowing down of the Indian project in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Ambassador Milinda Moragoda said that China has invested in Sri Lanka but China’s presence in the area of security is not in any way which will harm India’s interests. The Sri Lankan Ambassador has acknowledged that there is a trust deficit between the two countries which will have to be overcome by both the sides.
Sri Lanka is the center of China’s expansion in the Indian Ocean
China has also included Sri Lanka in China’s Indo-Pacific Expansion and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Sri Lanka had leased the Hambantota port to China’s Merchant Port Holdings Limited Company for $1.12 billion in 2017 for 99 years due to non-payment of China’s debt. However, now Sri Lanka wants this port back.
Sri Lanka in talks with many Chinese banks for loans
Sri Lankan officials say their government is also in talks with the China Development Bank for a $700 million loan. Of this, $ 200 million will be found in the form of Chinese currency Yuan. Between 2005 and 2015, Mahinda Rajapaksa took billions of dollars in debt from China during his presidency. Presently he is the Prime Minister, while his brother is the President. In such a situation, they are again seen going to China for loans.
India-US also troubled by Sri Lankan debt
Many western countries including India are upset to see Sri Lanka getting entangled in China’s debt trap. In fact, these countries fear that China might capture the whole of Sri Lanka in lieu of debt. In such a situation, China will get great power in the Indian Ocean. In 2017, Sri Lanka handed over its Hambantota port to a Chinese company in return for a loan of $1.4 billion. After which when India objected, Sri Lanka stopped the use of this port for military service.
Sri Lanka has a total debt of $ 55 billion
Sri Lanka has a total debt of $ 55 billion to countries around the world. According to the report, this amount is 80 percent of the total GDP of Sri Lanka. In this, the maximum debt is from China and and the Asian Development Bank. While it is followed by Japan and the World Bank. India has lent 2 per cent of Sri Lanka’s GDP.