China would always respect Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and not allow any ‘outside interference’ in its internal affairs, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday, January 14, as he met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, PTI reported.
‘As Sri Lanka’s strategic partner, China will continue to stand by Sri Lanka’s interests,’ the visiting Chinese state councilor and foreign minister was quoted as saying by Gotabaya’s office.
‘China stands for the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. We will not allow any outside influences to interfere with matters that are essentially internal concerns of Sri Lanka,’ Wang said.
Gotabaya said Sri Lanka is ready to enhance Sri Lanka-China ties, strengthen bilateral win-win cooperation in various fields and actively promote the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative to build regional shipping and logistic hubs, China’s State-run Xinhua news agency reported from Colombo, PTI reported.
‘China stands ready to work with Sri Lanka’s new administration to carry forward the traditional friendship, strengthen political mutual trust, dovetail development strategies and bring bilateral relations to new heights,’ Wang added.
“If Delhi wants Gotabaya to stick to its red lines, for example not allowing China to militarise Hambantota port, then it may have to put the Tamil and decentralisation issues on the backburner,” Constantino Xavier, Fellow, Foreign Policy, Brookings India, tells Aditi Phadnis.
How do you see the outcome of the presidential elections in Sri Lanka impacting domestic politics in Sri Lanka?
Bandaranaike, in 1956.
Except for Mahinda Rajapaksa’s resounding victory of 2010, the last president to be elected with a larger margin than Gotabaya was Chandrika Kumaratunga, back in 1994.
This reflects the electorate’s sense of exhaustion with four years of chronic instability, including a failed alliance between (em>then) president Maithripala Sirisena and (then) prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, marked by chronic infighting.
Governance suffered and the economic growth declined to a record low in two decades.
After the post-war high under Mahinda, with growth rates of 9 per cent in 2012, this slowdown was the main reason why voters backed Gotabaya.
There is concern especially among urban and upper-income voters that a return to the Rajapaksas will also mean curtailing of civic rights and growing authoritarianism.
Mahinda’s extra-constitutional attempts to topple the government in 2018 also raised eyebrows internationally.
But he ended up backing off then and now a clear majority voted for his brother Gotabaya, even while expecting him to continue to command the country’s destinies, in parallel as the prime minister.