Strategic Victory For China? US Drops Key Project Amid Sri Lanka’s Unrelenting Security Concerns

World

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a visit to Sri Lanka in October to coax the Gotabaya Rajapksa government to sign the Millennium Challenge Cooperation Agreement. A controversy erupted ahead of Pompeo’s visit, as the US called upon Colombo “to make difficult but necessary decisions” to pick sides between Beijing and Washington.

In a major setback amid the growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region, the US has decided to discontinue a proposed $480 million development assistance programme in Sri Lanka due to “lack of partner country engagement”.

The US Embassy in Colombo on Thursday informed through a press statement that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) board has decided that the approved fund for Sri Lanka will now be made available to other eligible partner countries.

The Millennium Challenge Cooperation Agreement was approved by the previous government of Ranil Wickremesinghe in the last year of his tenure, but he was unable to get approval from parliament, evoking widespread resistance among people who believed it compromised the nation’s sovereignty and national security.

Nevertheless, the US has once again reiterated that the programme, also facing resistance in another South Asian nation, Nepal, is transparent in nature.

The MCC has been dubbed a “development project aimed at poverty alleviation” by the US, but many people in Sri Lanka consider it a tool to expand military outreach in the Indian…

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