Beijing [China], December 22 (ANI): 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.
China offered the bailout to Pakistan after Islamabad's Prime minister Shehbaz Sharif visited China and bent over backwards to please President Xi Jinping but Sri Lanka hasn't made such moves.
Notably, Pakistan's PM became the first head after the re-election to the post of President in China. In order to please China, Sharif, even, ignored the turmoil back home.
"The world cannot live without China. It is believed that President Xi Jinping's foresight will not only continue to lead China to create more brilliant achievements but also lead the world to a brighter future," the Prime Minister of Pakistan said, kowtowing to the President of China.
"I would like to express my heartiest felicitations to my brother General Secretary Xi Jinping and the Communist Party of China for starting a new era in China's progress, it will herald the dawn of a brighter era of China - Pakistan friendship," he added.
After his speech, as expected China assured Shehbaz Sharif: "Don't worry. We will not let you down." This was quickly followed by a bailout package of USD 9 billion and assurance of more support.
However, the case for Sri Lanka is different. 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, according to True Ceylon News.
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."On December 5, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said, "We support the financial institutions in working out ways with Sri Lanka to solve the issue properly. We also hope relevant countries and international financial institutions will work with China and continue to play a constructive role in helping Sri Lanka overcome its current difficulties and ease its debt burden."The annual foreign debt servicing of Sri Lanka has shot up from USD 1.3 billion in 2009 to USD 4.1 billion in 2020. Of the total external borrowings of Sri Lanka of USD 41 billion, around 22 per cent is estimated to be from Chinese creditors, both bilateral and commercial. According to a study by China Africa Research Initiative, this figure is higher than the oft-quoted figure of 10 to 15 per cent, reported True Ceylon News.
Government officials in Sri Lanka have said that the timing of disbursement of the IMF loan would depend mainly on China's decision on restructuring its bilateral and commercial debts.
Now with the ambivalent attitude of Beijing, Colombo is likely to miss the December 2022 deadline for securing the USD 2.9 billion bailout package from the IMF. In such a case, Sri Lanka will again have to wait till March 2023.
China's generous offer in extending the maturity of USD 4.2 billion is because the Belt and Road initiative loans are never there for the genuine aim of achieving an economic recovery for the recipient countries, but to promote the strategic interests of Beijing. (ANI)