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China Shifting Focus to Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka President Says

  • Rajapaksa says Beijing has ‘less interest’ in South Asia
  • China may back Sri Lanka for IMF bailout, he says in interview
Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2018.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2018.Photographer: Tharaka Basnayaka/Bloomberg

China appears to be shifting its strategic focus toward Southeast Asia and Africa, Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, noting that South Asian countries in financial trouble aren’t getting the same attention from Beijing as before.  

In an interview on Monday, Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka couldn’t tap a $1.5 billion credit line from Beijing and has yet to hear back on his request to President Xi Jinping for a $1 billion loan to buy essential goods. He said China indicated it would help Sri Lanka, while adding that “usually they don’t like” lending out more money to cover earlier debt payments.