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Asia's Game of Thrones
China Woos Sri Lanka, Wins New Port City

On his tour of south and central Asia, Xi Jinping became the first Chinese head of state to visit Sri Lanka in 28 years. He has won favor in the island nation for his plan to build a “maritime Silk Road.” He and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa signed deals on a host of infrastructure and investment deals, most notably including one to develop a major port city. The AP reports on the increasingly close relationship:

Before departing for India on Wednesday, Xi planned to help launch Colombo Port City, being constructed on an artificial island off Colombo with $1.4 billion in Chinese loans, according to the builder, China Communications Construction Co. Ltd.

The company said the port city will be a “hub on the marine Silk Road of Asia and position itself as the preferred global tourism destination in Asia.”

Rajapaksa said the port city would be the single largest development project in the country’s history with the potential to attract $5 billion in investments.

Xi and Rajapaksa also launched the final phase of a 900 megawatt coal power plant valued at more than $1.3 billion.

Rajapaksa said the plant will help make electricity available for every Sri Lankan household, and announced a 25 percent reduction in electricity fees.

China has become Sri Lanka’s largest lender in recent years, providing more than $6 billion through September 2013 for port facilities, highways and a new international airport.

China’s ability to support infrastructure development in exchange for influence and favor is a major diplomatic tool, and Xi can certainly wield it. India is also a recent recipient of major Chinese infrastructure investment, since Xi wants to pry apart Tokyo’s close relationship with New Delhi. With Xi pushing ahead with his maritime Silk Road plan, we should expect this style of diplomacy to continue to play a big role in Asia.

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  • Anthony

    “…Xi is a leader who knows how to play the right strategies. Xi will create a new middle road for China, transcending East vs. West, democracy vs. authoritarianism, and left vs. right.”

    • S.C. Schwarz

      If only we had a leader like that. Or really, any leader at all.

      • Anthony

        Agreed. But one caveat, we have to become a little more honest about both what we can do (as citizens) and how democracy operates in United States.

        • Venkat Rao Dasari

          Please explain.

          • Anthony

            Short version : many of us who vote in U.S. )generally) do not vote our interests intelligently (maybe we don’t even know what they are). Equally,those of us who do participate are (again generally) motivated “against” something not actively working to achieve policy outcomes. We are ordinarily voting punitively rather than pushing a policy/legislative outcome preferred. Comparatively, few Americans step back and ask how does the American political democratic system work and for what purpose – what are the major forces shaping Democracy and how do they operate? I hope my precis has been helpful.

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