What has the United States done for countries like Sri Lanka? – Opinion

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Queues build up at a petrol station in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on July 17, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Sri Lanka appears to be getting back to normal after tumultuous recent weeks that have seen senior government officials flee the country amid intense protests and growing calls for them to step down over the collapsing economy. Recent days have seen the launch of food distribution campaigns, the introduction of a QR code system for fuel distribution and fewer power outages. And according to reports, people generally agree that the new government should have time to revive the economy.

That a team from the International Monetary Fund is visiting Sri Lanka from August 24 to 31 to discuss economic and financial reforms with the country’s new government is another encouraging sign for the Sri Lankan economy. service-level agreement with Sri Lanka on a possible expanded short-term financing facility.

But using the Sri Lankan crisis for their own gains, some Western politicians and media have blamed China for the collapse of the country’s economy, claiming that China has provided Sri Lanka with opaque loan deals at interest rates. higher interest than other lenders.

However, the truth is that all cooperation projects have been implemented after scientific planning and thorough evaluation, and without any political conditions. Indeed, Sino-Sri Lankan cooperation has contributed to the Sri Lankan economy and brought tangible benefits to the people of Sri Lanka.

More importantly, Sri Lanka’s external debt is multifaceted, with debt to China (10% of the total) much lower than that to the international capital market and development banks. In addition, China has mainly provided preferential loans with low interest rates and long-term maturity, which have helped improve Sri Lanka’s infrastructure and people’s livelihoods.

In fact, soon after Sri Lanka announced the suspension of international debt payments, Chinese financial institutions approached the Sri Lankan side, saying they were ready to help overcome the difficulties and pointing out that a way to manage overdue debts will be found.

Perhaps the best response to Western attacks on China came from Sri Lankan writer Indrajit Samarajiva. In a commentary published in the New York Times on August 15, Samarajiva said, “Western media accuse China of luring us into a debt trap. Tucker Carlson (TV host and conservative political commentator) says environmental, social and corporate governance programs have killed us. . debt-fueled form of colonization. The system is in crisis, its foundations exposed by the falling dominoes of the Ukrainian war, leading to food and fuel shortages, pandemic and impending insolvency and hunger spreading across the world.

Economies around the world, global financial markets in particular, have suffered greatly from recent interest rate hikes and the shrinking US balance sheet. Combined with its longstanding quantitative easing policy and massive stimulus packages to boost the US economy, the rate hikes have dealt a devastating blow to developing and emerging economies.

In addition, capricious U.S. sanctions and tariff barriers have undermined industry and global supply chains, and caused food and energy prices to soar, making life even more difficult for millions of people around the world and worsening the financial situation of developing countries such as Sri Lanka. Lanka. Indeed, US-led manipulation of Sri Lanka’s credit rating has seriously undermined the country’s credibility and funding channels.

The United States should ask itself: what have they done for developing countries like Sri Lanka? And what harm have US economic, financial and foreign policies caused to other countries?

We hope that the United States will ease Sri Lanka’s debt burden, instead of recklessly exploiting every opportunity to blame it on other countries. Because it is not fair to blame China for its underperforming investments. For example, the failure of Hambantota port can be attributed to Sri Lanka’s lack of market power, marketing skills, technological expertise in international financing and global cooperation network. In fact, since China Merchants Port Holdings Company resumed operation in 2017, the port has experienced remarkable growth.

Several manufacturing businesses are being established in the Port of Hambantota Industrial Park, including Sea-Horse Yachts’ $58 million yacht building factory, plug-and-play parking facility $15 million Shenzhen Xinji Group and Shandong Haohua Tire Co.’s $300 million tire manufacturing plant.

Sri Lanka also has many Belt and Road Initiative projects including the Colombo-Katunayake Highway, Southern Highway, Outer Ring Highway, Hambantota Port, Bunkering Facility and Tank Yard. in Hambantota, Hambantota Port Industrial Zone Project, Reconstruction of Kandy-Jaffna A9 Road, Mattala Airport in Hambantota, Norocholai Puttalam Lakvijaya Power Plant, Colombo International Container Terminals, Extension Matara-Kataragama Railway and the Greater Kurunegala Water Supply and Sanitation Project. Which has brought many benefits to Sri Lanka.

In addition, China has fully funded the construction of important landmarks such as the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, the Bandaranaike Center for International Studies building, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka complex, a nine-storey wing at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital and the National Nephrology Specialist. Hospital.

Even though Japanese contractor Taisei Corporation Sri Lanka Ltd has suspended the construction of Terminal 2 of Stage 2 of the Bandaranaike International Airport Development Project until Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring process is finalized, the Metallurgical Corporation of China agreed to further discuss funding at the next meeting. to proceed with the long-delayed construction of phase two of the third leg of the Central Expressway.

People have seen tangible changes, including the creation of many new jobs, from the Belt and Road projects through improved infrastructure. In short, China has always been a reliable friend and partner of Sri Lanka, and their friendly relations benefit the development of both countries and serve the fundamental interests of people on both sides.

The author is Director of Belt and Road Initiative Sri Lanka, an independent and pioneering Sri Lankan-led organization specializing in BRI advice and support.

Opinions do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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