U.S. Undermines Sri Lankan Sovereignty to Usurp Chinese BRI Investment

by Kiji Noh, published on Organizing Notes, July 28, 2022


Good big picture analysis by Andy Boreham [in the video above].

But the “debt trap diplomacy” trope here is not just information warfare to attack and delegitimate China. It is to ensure that any subsequent government Sri Lanka (SL) breaks or reduces ties with China.

SL is very likely a US-instigated or encouraged color revolution, using US–not Chinese–debt-trap weapons to force chaos, regime change, austerity, and to ensure US military basing.

Sri Lanka is not particularly indebted.  There is a short term dollar liquidity issue, a few billion that was due in the short term. This issue is tied to disruptions from US-led sanctions on Russia–trade, remittances, tourism.

These short term cash positions could have been managed by rolling over the debt, if the West, which holds most of the debt had decided to. Instead, it has tightened the screws, put Sri Lanka into a choke hold, thus leading to a dollar liquidity crisis–a financial cardiac arrest. This has led to extreme shortages of fuel and fertilizer, and this in term has stoked protests and discontent.

The US, through proxies, has leveraged this into a full blown crisis–“make them scream“–and now a coup, a coup that asks for IMF intervention–just as the Hong Kong rioters asked for Trump’s intervention.

You know you’re in color revolution territory when the protestors make demands for foreign intervention.

This is the IMF’s definitionally insane 17th round of intervention in Sri Lanka, so it’s not like they were asking for something they hoped could work.

The IMF will strip assets, privatize Sri Lanka health care and public infrastructure putting Sri Lanka into an IMF headlock and kneel it back down into a subordinate (as opposed to non-aligned) role as part of US Indo-Pacific strategy against China.

The coup was related to the fact that Sri Lanka is getting close to China and Russia.  It was developing with the help of China.  It had avoided an earlier crisis on sovereign debt with Chinese help (it leased–not gave–the port of Hambantota to China).

Most recently, SL had negotiated a resolution to its fuel crisis with Russia.  It was to receive Russian fuel. Like the EuroMaidan, immediately afterwards, after this negotiation, the Coup happened.  (Victoria Nuland had visited a few months earlier).

The structures of modern governance in most countries are not yet strong enough to resist a coup if the US sets its mind on it, just as few of the countries of the global south (Korea, Indonesia, Africa, Latin America) or Europe were able to resist US interference during the cold war.

SL is a key node of the Belt & Road  Initiative –in particular the Hambantota port and the economic zones that China built.  It is geopolitically important for the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy.  It is a [strategic] point in the Indian Ocean (and the US base in Chagos Islands is threatened by ICJ judgements).

The US signed a secret SOFA agreement to build a base on SL with the FM–secret, as in not even notifying the ministry of defense. When this leaked, the base agreement became imperiled. This change of government will ensure the base goes through.

This is a message to the world: cooperate with China to develop independently and get out from under our yoke, and you will be in a world of chaos & pain.


KiJi Noh is a peace activist and scholar on the geopolitics of the Asian continent who writes for Counterpunch and Dissident Voice. He is special correspondent for KPFA Flashpoints on the “Pivot to Asia,” the Koreas, and the Pacific.

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