After suspending solar power project, Chinese ambassador goes on charm offensive in Jaffna

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi Published: Dec 17, 2021, 10:26 PM(IST)

Chinese ambassador Qi Zhenhong visited a temple in Jaffna Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

The Chinese ambassador Qi Zhenhong toured Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka as he visited a library and met some fishermen. He even went bare-chested for a temple run.

China has been forced to cancel a solar power project in Sri Lanka.

Reports say there was pressure from India, others say the local population rejected it. China however has reacted with a publicity campaign.

The Chinese ambassador Qi Zhenhong toured Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka as he visited a library and met some fishermen. He even went bare-chested for a temple run.

×

In the last two days, ambassador Zhenhong has been all over Jaffna. At the local library, he donated books and laptops and at the dock, he brought fishing nets and food parcels.

At the temple, he went bare-chested with a flower basket in an attempt to charm the locals.

Watch | Gravitas: Chinese envoy woos Lankan Tamils

China was contracted to build a solar network near Jaffna, however, the Chinese embassy earlier made an announcement saying: "The project to build hybrid energy system in three northern islands of Sri Lanka has been suspended due to 'security concern' from a third party."

×

No one really knows about the "third party". However, China believes it is India. New Delhi has considerable clout in northern Sri Lanka as 70 per cent of the island's Tamil population lives in the area and traditionally they have backed India.

The Chinese ambassador had asked an Army official how far is India/Indian Ocean stretch and was told "it is exactly 30km from this point".

×

The proposed solar project was just miles off the Indian coast. Officially, New Delhi has been silent over any form of protests, however, China does not want to take chances, so the Chinese Communist Party dispatched their ambassador to Jaffna to win over the Tamils.

Most Chinese projects are concentrated in southern Sri Lanka and the northern part is largely been ignored and the fact that it has ties with India makes it a complicated equation.

Beijing's strategy has been to throw money at the problem. China has donated goods worth $100,000 to fishermen in Jaffna giving away books and laptops but Tamils continue to be wary.

The ambassador's visit is also a sign of deteriorating China-Lanka ties. Earlier, Colombo had banned the import of Chinese fertilizers.

In response, China had blacklisted Sri Lanka's state bank but now Beijing's envoy is courting the Tamils. 

Read in App