Sri Lanka has signed two huge contracts with Chinese firms centring on a port upgrade as fears mount that the Sri Lankan government will be toppled.
Despite its political and economic problems, Sri Lanka is a key player in the region given its strategic position, and it has long been part of both India and China’s maritime visions.
Given the recent agreement, it appears the Sri Lanka is set to become the latest outpost on China’s Belt and Road infrastructure (BRI) plan to connect China with countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
The BRI is a reawakening of China’s ancient Maritime Silk Road.
However, just as the deal as been announced, a political storm continues to centre around Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s replacement of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The move has raised major concerns as to the legitimacy of the government.
Many foreign countries have refused to acknowledge the new government and Wickremesinghe’s party has said any decisions by Rajapaksa’s cabinet are illegal.
Given the situation, it is not clear whether the port upgrades will actually take place.