Colombia, Sri Lanka:
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called the Chinese Communist government a “predator” as it attempted to deflect Sri Lanka from Beijing influence and later increase its US diplomatic presence in neighboring Maldives to counter the Asian superpower. given.
Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically located on the main trade routes of the Indian Ocean, have borrowed heavily from Beijing in recent years, with Washington and other countries concerned about China’s rise to power.
Pompeo this week focused on China for an Asian tour that started in India and is now moving from the Indian Ocean islands to Indonesia.
During a 12-hour stay in Colombo, Pompeo described China as a “predator”, prompting a backlash on social media from the Chinese embassy.
“A strong sovereign Sri Lanka is a powerful strategic partner on the world stage for the United States,” Pompeo told reporters after talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Pompeo said Washington provided military training and two coastguard ships to Sri Lanka, which were helping China.
“We see in bad agreements, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea, that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator, and that the United States comes in a different way,” Pompeo said.
The Chinese Embassy in Colombo responded by tweeting a promotional image from the video game “Aliens vs. Predator ”.
“Sorry, Secretary Pompeo, we are busy promoting Sino-Sri Lankan friendship and cooperation. Your invitation to the Alien V Predator match does not arouse any interest, ”he said.
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Ganwarden made no reference to China during a press conference with Pompeo. Rajapaksa told Pompeo he was not ready to compromise the island’s independence and denied that the country is heading into a Chinese debt trap, his office said.
Sri Lanka borrowed billions of dollars from China for infrastructure when Rajapaksa’s brother Mahinda was the country’s leader from 2005 to 2015.
Unable to lend $ 1.4 billion for the construction of the deep-water port, the country was forced in 2017 to lease the port to a Chinese company for 99 years.
Yang Jiechi, a senior Communist Party of China Politburo member, pledged more funding while in Colombo this month.
China has in the past helped Sri Lanka tackle allegations of human rights violations, especially in the closing months of its decades-long Tamil civil war in 2009, when the current president was primarily responsible defense of the country.
After offering wreaths and prayers at Saint Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church, where 56 of the 279 people killed in suicide bombings on Easter Sunday last year, Pompeo flew to the Maldives.
He said the launch of the resident US embassy in Male ‘was “an unwavering commitment to the Maldives and the Indo-Pacific region” after talks with President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih.
China opened a full embassy in Male in 2011, one of the first states to have a resident diplomatic mission in the archipelago, known as a hotspot for honeymooners and high-end tourists.
Pompeo warned the Maldives, a country of 340,000 Sunni Muslims, of Beijing’s “lawless and threatening behavior”.
He said China was also exceeding the level of marine debris that would be “unconscious” to other nations. The Maldives rely on their pristine beaches to support luxury tourism.
The Vietnamese government has said it expects Pompeo to stay there after Indonesia, but this was not immediately confirmed by the State Department.
(This story was not edited by NDTV employees and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)