China-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital
- President Gotabaya Rajapaksa inaugurated the China-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital in Polonnaruwa, built with a Chinese grant of $ 60 million.
- The hospital, located in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province, will specialise in treating kidney ailments, a widely prevalent and recurring concern in the region, especially among farmers.
- The hospital, said to be one of the largest in South Asia for nephrology care.
- China’s earlier grant projects in Sri Lanka are also built as large public spaces. Eg. Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre.
- In addition to sanctioning loans and a currency swap facility worth more than $2 billion since the pandemic struck, China also announced a $90 million grant to Sri Lanka in October 2020.
- India’s grant assistance to Sri Lanka totals about $570 million.
- While the Polonnaruwa hospital has been inaugurated, the Jaffna Cultural Centre, built with Indian assistance of $11.5 million, whose construction was completed a year ago, awaits inauguration.
- China’s rapidly growing presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and specifically in Sri Lanka is a cause of concern for India.
- While India is not a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, China considers Sri Lanka to be a critical link in its global infrastructure-building initiative.
- India is concerned as Sri Lanka slips into deeper dependence and loan debt on China.
- Much of the world sees China-funded mega projects in Sri Lanka as debt traps for the island nation.
- In 2017, Sri Lanka leased out a Chinese-built port (Hambantota) located near busy shipping routes to a Chinese company for 99 years to recover from the heavy burden of repaying the Chinese loan the country received to build it.