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Chaos-hit Sri Lanka made ‘dumb bets’ on China, says CIA chief

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Bill Burns, chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), on Wednesday blamed the ‘dumb bets’ made by Sri Lanka on China for the continued financial disaster.

People shout slogans throughout a protest in entrance of the Presidential Secretariat, in Colombo (Photo: Reuters)

CIA chief Bill Burns on Wednesday blamed “dumb bets” on high-debt Chinese funding as a think about Sri Lanka’s financial collapse, saying it ought to function a warning to different nations.

“The Chinese have a lot of weight to throw around and they can make a very appealing case for their investments,” Burns mentioned on the Aspen Security Forum.

But nations ought to take a look at “a place like Sri Lanka today — heavily indebted to China — which has made some really dumb bets about their economic future and is suffering pretty catastrophic, both economic and political, consequences as a result.

“That, I feel, must be an object lesson to numerous different gamers — not simply within the Middle East or South Asia, however world wide — about having your eyes huge open about these sorts of dealings.”

China has invested closely in Sri Lanka — strategically positioned within the Indian Ocean and off India, usually seen as a rival of Beijing — and labored intently with former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Rajapaksa fled the nation and resigned final week within the face of mass protests over dire financial situations, with the island practically exhausting its provide of meals and gas.

Sri Lanka has borrowed closely from China for infrastructure tasks, a few of which ended up as white elephants.

In 2017, Sri Lanka was unable to repay a $1.4 billion mortgage for a port development within the south of the nation and was pressured to lease out the power to a Chinese firm for 99 years.

Near the port is the Rajapaksa Airport, constructed with a $200 million mortgage from China, that was so sparingly used that at one level it was unable to cowl its electrical energy invoice.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has additionally publicly blamed Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain as a contributing think about Sri Lanka’s disaster, noting the sharply rising costs of meals.

READ | Sri Lanka disaster: How the island nation descended into chaos; what’s subsequent | Explained

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READ | Lessons for India from Sri Lanka financial disaster

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