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Experts warn of Chinese diplomacy of debt trap, cite Sri Lanka example


With Sri Lanka’s economy overburdened with Chinese loans, experts say, other countries in the region must also appeal to their own governments to learn the necessary lessons from the island nation.

Dr Rasul, a professor in the Department of Economics at the International University of Agriculture and Trade Technology (IUBAT), warned against overreliance on foreign loans, which he said could make vulnerable countries, reported EFSAS (European Foundation for South Asian Studies).

Md. Maruf Mozumder in his article in The Daily Observer also strongly recommended that Bangladesh learn serious lessons from Sri Lanka. He suggested that Sri Lanka’s tendency to sometimes lean more towards China than India was problematic, adding that “it is important to note that due to debt trap diplomacy, China is building a geopolitically strong position with huge profits by granting small loans to developing countries in South Asia”.

Sri Lankan leaders have promoted large-scale investment from China, which has boosted Beijing’s debt trap diplomacy. Not only that, while speaking to Sri Lankan media, Chinese Ambassador to Colombo Qi Zhenhong criticized Sri Lanka’s decision to approach the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail it out.

It is becoming clear that China has contributed to Sri Lanka’s current devastating economic crisis. Even when China asked Sri Lanka not to seek support from the United States, China itself did not provide an alternative for the nation to help it out of the economic crisis.

The economic disaster has caught the attention of experts across South Asia. This led to debates and suggestions on what other countries should do to avoid turning into another Sri Lanka, according to the outlet.

Sri Lanka’s situation is also marred by years of Rajapaksa rule in the island nation. Dr. Golam Rasul says a multi-party democratic system is critically important in any country.

Dr. Rasul highlighted other important lessons for Bangladesh from the situation in Sri Lanka. He wrote that economics and politics were interdependent and mutually influenced, and quoted Nobel laureate Milton Friedman while arguing that political freedom was fundamental to economic freedom.

Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, who heads the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, welcomed Sri Lanka to the Pakistani club, writing: “Pakistan is not the only country in the region going through political turmoil. Sri Lanka also faces a political stalemate. Insecurity breeds insecurities. In Sri Lanka, an economic crisis has spawned a political crisis. In Pakistan, the ongoing political crisis is leading to an economic crisis”.

He warned against gaining political popularity at the expense of macroeconomic stability, which he said will lead to a vicious cycle of “economic crisis-political instability”.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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