Now India, the traditional power in the region, is muscling into port and other projects, pushing back hard against China.
The big fear for India is that Sri Lanka, just off its southern coast and on one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, could become a Chinese military outpost.
But the battle is creating political turmoil in Sri Lanka. A bust-up between President Maithripala Sirisena and ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe over how far to accommodate Indian interests is a key reason the nation’s unity government has just fallen apart, government officials and foreign diplomats said.
Wickremesinghe, who was fired on October 26 + and replaced by veteran pro-China politician Mahinda Rajapaksa, told Reuters about arguments at a cabinet meeting chaired by the president last month over a proposal to grant development of a Colombo port project to a Japan-India joint venture.
“There are arguments in the cabinet, sometimes heated arguments,” he said.
Wickremesinghe did not name the president but said: “There was a paper put forth to not give it to India, Japan.”
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