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Crisis-Hit Sri Lanka Made ‘Dumb Bets’ On China: CIA Chief

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Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, the head of United States’ spy agency – CIA chief Bill Burns blamed Sri Lanka’s “dumb bets” on high-debt Chinese investment as a factor in country’s economic collapse. The country’s economic collapse triggered social unrest.

“The Chinese have a lot of weight to throw around and they can make a very appealing case for their investments,” Burns said.

He claimed that countries should look at “a place like Sri Lanka today – heavily indebted to China -which has made some really dumb bets about their economic future and are suffering pretty catastrophic, both economic and political, consequences as a result.”

“That, I think, ought to be an object lesson to a lot of other players – not just in the Middle East or South Asia, but around the world – about having your eyes wide open about those kinds of dealings.”

Working closely with closely with former Sri Lanka president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Beijing has led Colombo in to debt trap. The Chinese have invested heavily in the crisis hit country, which is suffering from dwindling cash reserves and has exhausted its food and fuel supply.

In 2017, Sri Lanka was unable to repay a $1.4 billion loan for Hambantota port construction and was forced to lease out the facility to a Chinese company for 99 years. The construction was carried out by a joint venture of China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) and the Sino Hydro Corporation, reported the Hindustan Times.

Located strategically in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is also is a recipient of financial aid from India, a rival of Beijing. Sri Lanka’s opposition leader recently made an appeal to India to help Sri Lanka and its people “to come out of this disaster.”

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