China blasts 'bully' U.S. ahead of Pompeo visit to Sri Lanka

Elias Hubbard
October 28, 2020

"The Chinese Communist Party is a predator".

The discussions during the visit are expected to cover several areas of the multifaceted engagement between the two countries.

According to Palitha Kohona, a veteran diplomat and Sri Lanka's next ambassador to Beijing speaking to Nikkei Asia, China has been a consistent ally of Sri Lanka and has been a great strength in worldwide fora.

"He will also emphasise our commitment to Sri Lanka's sovereignty and encourage progress on governance and reconciliation priorities", a State Department official said.

He said that he had discussed with Sri Lankan leaders the (COVID-19) pandemic that came from Wuhan, China. "We will." "We can be force multipliers and deliver really good outcomes not only for the people of India or the Indo-Pacific but for the entire world", Pompeo said, indicating U.S. support at a time when India is facing a major security threat by way of Chinese aggression along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh. Sri Lankan officers receiving training in the US.

After laying a wreath and praying at St Anthony's Roman Catholic church where 56 of the 279 people killed in last year's Easter Sunday suicide attacks lost their lives, Pompeo flew to the Maldives. The US has offered substantial counterterrorism assistance to help bring the killers of Americans and their own people to justice. John Kerry visited Sri Lanka in March 2015.

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Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena made no reference to China at the press conference with Pompeo.

Early this month, India, the US, Japan and Australia agreed to step up coordination in creating a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Secretary of State Pompeo is the highest-level US dignitary to visit Sri Lanka during the tenure of US President Donald Trump.

Pompeo is expected to ask Colombo to make "difficult" choices on its relationship with China, which has provided key investment and diplomatic backing in recent years.

United States officials complain that development and infrastructure projects benefit China more than the presumed recipients - a refrain Pompeo repeated with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

In a meeting between Chinese diplomat and the Sri Lankan officials in Colombo, the Chinese diplomats pledged to strengthen economic ties with Sri Lanka and to defend the country at "international fora including United Nations Human Rights Council", reported the Tamil Guardian.

It said that China and Sri Lanka have enough wisdom to handle relations with each other and do not need a third party to dictate. But there has been criticism, both locally and internationally, and growing concerns that China has lured Sri Lanka into a debt trap. China considers Sri Lanka and to a lesser extent the Maldives to be a critical link in its massive "Belt and Road" global infrastructure building initiative and has provided billions of dollars in loans for projects over the past decade.

The previous Maithripala Sirisena government had entered into a 99-year lease with China in 2017 as a settlement of its debt by way of equity.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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