The Bishop of St Albans asked the following question on Sri Lanka’s relationship with China, on 21st July 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked: whether Her Majesty’s Government agree with those commentators who believe that part of the issue has been an overclose relationship between the ruling family and China? Does the Minister also agree that this is a wake-up call to those countries which are now being courted by China? What else can Her Majesty’s Government do to increase our soft power among the Commonwealth at this time when people are vying for power in this volatile part of the world?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, I agree with the right reverend Prelate. We have discussed before in your Lordships’ House the ever-growing role of China, and it is important that we work not just as the United Kingdom but with key allies, including the European Union, America and other like-minded partners, to offer economical alternatives for long-term infrastructure development. He is correct that we have seen the key port in Sri Lanka being financed by Chinese money, which then leads to a large level of debt being held by the Chinese. Current stats show that China holds 10% of Sri Lanka’s external debt stock. Although at a similar level to Japan, that debt is nevertheless on a rate which disables the economy rather than enabling it.
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