ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sri Lanka–China Relations

Analysing Sri Lankan, Chinese, and Indian Perspectives

The Sri Lankan, Indian, and Chinese perspectives on the growing strategic partnership between Sri Lanka and China are analysed. The motivations and objectives of India and China in strengthening their artnership with Sri Lanka are examined. The history of the Sri Lanka–China relationship and Chinese overtures to Sri Lanka in recent days is discussed. It is argued that given the geostrategic location of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, and proximity to India, an aspiration for infrastructural developmental and Chinese developmental assistance are primarily shaping the Sri Lankan foreign policy choice to adopt hedging to maximise benefits.

The Family Man 2, an Indian OTT series, vividly captures how increasing China’s involvement in Sri Lanka pushes Indian leadership to forgo its domestic electoral voters to keep China at bay in the Indian Ocean. China’s recent efforts to engage Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean are intended to protect and expand its commercial and security interests. In this context, this article examines Indian and Chinese perspectives on Sri Lanka and China’s growing partnership. The article argues that Sri Lanka’s geostrategic location in the Indian Ocean, proximity to India, aspiration for infrastructure development, and Chinese development assistance are the primary determinants of its decision to adopt hedging to maximise benefits.

Although China and Sri Lanka do not share a common border, their interactions date back thousands of years, as recorded in the Book of Han Dynasty (Han’shu) and ancient Roman history books (Gunaratna 1987). In the fifth century, the renowned Chinese monk Faxian reportedly travelled on a mercantile ship from the port of Tamralipti, in eastern India, to Sri Lanka (Sen 2006). He studied Buddhism at the Abhayagiri Vihara in Anuradhapura for two years and returned to China through the sea route. Faxian described Sri Lanka in greater detail in his travel journal Records of the Buddhistic Kingdoms. Admiral Zheng He, a Chinese explorer, led the seavoyage to Sri Lanka seven times during China’s Ming dynasty (1368–1644 AD). His visits have been memorialised in a stone stele in 1409. The inscriptions on the stele, known as Galle Trilingual Inscription, written in Chinese, Persian, and Tamil, describe Zheng He’s mission and their paying tribute at the local Buddhist temple (Sen 2019; Brooks 2019; Bastiampillai nd). Bastiampillai (nd) notes that Sri Lanka’s

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Updated On : 12th Sep, 2022
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