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War of words between China and US over Sri Lanka debt

2023 Jan 18, 14:35, Colombo
Representative Image ( PHOTO : ANI)

Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka slammed the US recently after an American diplomat called China a 'spoiler' to Sri Lanka's negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a recent interview.

Notably, Julie Chung, the US Ambassador to China took a jibe at Beijing in an interview with UK-based television network, BBC Newsnight and said that the US is hopeful that China would not delay extending support for Sri Lanka's debt restructuring process, as the island nation does not have time to delay, Colombo Gazette reported.

"For the sake of the Sri Lankan people, we certainly hope China is not a spoiler as they proceed to attain this IMF agreement," Chung had said further.

In a press release on Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka retaliated at Chung's remarks and called them as "baseless accusing and lecturing." It further lashed the US envoy for putting the blame on China for being the "spoiler" to Sri Lanka's negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"Before her baseless accusing and lecturing, our US colleague should have at least asked herself: Who is the single largest shareholder of the IMF with a veto power over major policy decisions? Who is keeping printing US dollar, with more than $3 trillion in 2020 alone?," the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka said in a tweet.

Instead of sowing discord between Sri Lanka and China, China questioned in its release why the US did not take decisive action in the IMF for a more comfortable solution for Sri Lanka

"Isn't it hypocrisy at its finest for our US colleague to play the blame game instead of a self-examination? After all, why didn't the US take decisive actions in the IMF for a more comfortable solution for Sri Lanka? or extend a grant to the island with the rocket amount of US dollars they print every year, instead of sowing discord between China and Sri Lanka?," the official Twitter handle of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka tweeted on Tuesday.

Both Chinese and Sri Lankan people are wise enough to judge without any foreign lecturing who is the spoiler of our development, the Chinese Embassy tweeted further.

The embassy was enraged by her assertion that China was a "spoiler" in Sri Lanka's efforts to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Both Sri Lanka and Pakistan are caught in China's debt track but while China has offered a bailout package to Pakistan, it has refused to defer loan repayments of Sri Lanka, True Ceylon News reported.

Earlier, Sri Lanka had requested China for financial assistance and restructuring of its debt, which constitutes about 10 per cent of its total external debt burden.

But China reportedly said they were having a hard time processing Colombo's request due to "severe challenges and complications" from the unilateral announcement of debt repayment suspension by Sri Lanka.

China's ambassador to Sri Lanka, Qi Zhenhong said, "China has done its best to help Sri Lanka not to default, but sadly they went to the IMF and decided to default. The debt restructuring definitely will have an impact on future bilateral loans. Countries that colonized Sri Lanka have more obligations to help at this juncture," True Ceylon News reported. 


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