WION Edit: What does Sri Lanka election results mean for India?

File photo: Sri Lanka's President-elect Gotabaya Rajapaksa addresses the nation, at the presidential swearing-in ceremony in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka November 18, 2019. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Delhi Nov 18, 2019, 08.55 PM (IST)

On WION Edit, we will explore what does Gotabaya Rajapaksa's victory mean for India, China and the region at large?

First, there is no sugar-coating the fact that the Rajapaksas are close to China.

The rise of Chinese influence in Sri Lanka ran parallel to the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Under him, they sealed infrastructure deals worth billions of dollars. Between 2008 and 2012, 60 per cent of Sri Lanka's foreign borrowing came from China.

No wonder, India and the US were alarmed. However, this closeness to china did not mean that Rajapaksa was not cordial with India.

But china began having the larger say in a country where India was traditionally a major player.

Then Sirisena came to power. Under his presidency, India's influence rose.

New Delhi entered major port and airport projects - even though there was no matching the Chinese money.

Now another Rajapaksa is in power. India can only hope that he won't undo the gains made over the last 4 years.

China - on the other hand - will have a clear advantage. They share a Buddhist link and an old friendship.

When the world slammed Sri Lanka over human rights violations, China backed it.

It is no surprise that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has signalled at a revival of the China-Sri Lanka ties. Now, here's an important question-- does advantage China mean disadvantage India?

The answer is no. India still has a higher share than China in trade imports to Sri Lanka. The relationship is older, beyond the framework of trade and economy.

Moreover, there's America. Sri Lanka cannot pigeonhole itself with china and face the wrath of the west.

It must consciously maintain balance. India, on its part, must expand ties with Sri Lanka irrespective of the Chinese presence.

Many Sri Lankans view China with suspicion. This election doesn't end the debate on Chinese debt.

It's very much a concern. India must come in here. If India backs good intentions with action, then it's a win-win influence in Sri Lanka and influence in the Indian ocean.

This is an opportunity for India to start on the same page with Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
 

(Disclaimer: WION Edit is the channel's take on the big events of the world)

Story highlights

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has signalled at a revival of the China-Sri Lanka ties. Now, here's an important question-- does advantage China mean disadvantage India?