In a move to counter China’s increasing influence on Sri Lanka, the United States has announced that it would grant the Indian ocean island a $39 million to boost its maritime security.
“We look forward to discussing with the government of Sri Lanka how this contribution can support our Bay of Bengal initiative and Sri Lanka’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response priorities,” the South China Morning Post quoted the US embassy in Colombo as saying.
China, which is the world’s second-largest economy, has raised its investments in major ports in Sri Lanka, which is also a key in its ambitious infrastructure initiative– ‘Belt and Road’.
Interestingly, the Hambantota port, which is considered the world’s busiest east-west shipping route, also gave China a strong foothold in a region which was long dominated by India.
However, United States’ military funding to Sri Lanka is subjected to an approval from the Congress.
“We look forward to discussing with the government of Sri Lanka how this contribution can support our Bay of Bengal initiative and Sri Lanka’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response priorities,” the US embassy in Colombo said.
It should be noted that the United States stopped selling arms to Sri Lanka when the country was ravaged by the civil war, which came to an end in 2009. The US was also severely critical of former Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapakse on grounds of human rights.
China, on the other hand, promised Sri Lanka to provide financial help, including loans, notwithstanding the country facing mounting debt.
It was in June 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailed Sri Lanka out with a $1.5 billion loan. It also issued warning to Colombo over its massive debt.