China tells US not to bully Sri Lanka as Pompeo prepares for visit
COLOMBO (SRI LANKA) – China has objected to what it called US bullying of Sri Lanka after Washington talked about need for the Indian Ocean island to make “difficult but necessary choices”, with regard to its ties with China.
The comments by the Chinese embassy in Colombo came before the arrival of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday, who is on an Asian tour.
The embassy said in a statement late on Monday, “We are firmly opposed to the United States taking the opportunity of the State Secretary’s visit to sow and interfere in China-Sri Lanka relations, and to coerce and bully Sri Lanka.”
China has made investments of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka as part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, which was aimed at connecting Asia, Europe and beyond.
Pompeo’s trip to Sri Lanka will be followed with a visit to Maldives, and is seen as part of an attempt to deal with China’s dominating economic presence in smaller countries.
Dean Thompson, the senior State Department official for South and Central Asian affairs, said Sri Lanka must make firm decisions to secure its economic independence over the longer term.
China also raised concern about Pompeo making the trip at a time when Sri Lanka is already grappling with the coronavirus.
The embassy asked, “Is it helpful to local epidemic prevention and control? Is it in the interests of the Sri Lankan people.”
The embassy said that a Chinese delegation led by its top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, visited Colombo this month.
It said, “We are willing to share these practices with the United States, hoping to provide some reference for Mr State Secretary’s visit and its handling of relations with small and medium-sized countries.”