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The President of Sri Lanka started pushing to build a new port in a small town at the south end of Sri Lanka because ambitious projects like this make you look like a good, caring politician. The only problem was that everyone, including their own government studies estimated that the port wouldn’t be profitable. But then the President announced that the project had been greenlighted – with help from none other than China.
The port opened in 2012, and the forecasts were right – no one was interested in using this new port. And it’s finances were in the hole. So the President went back to China for another loan, this time for $757 million.
So what did they do? They took out another loan from China, this time for $1 billion dollars, to help pay off that upcoming debt payment. It’s safe to say that Sri Lanka found itself at the mercy of the Chinese government. It was drowning in debt payments and was left with an expensive port no one wanted to use. And now, China owns 85% of that port and managed to squeeze 15,000 acres of land around that port as well.
Debt traps, debt diplomacy is nothing new. China is probably just taking a page out of the original master at this game: the US. Why did the US go through all this effort to indebt these Less-Developed Countries, or LDCs? Simple: when you’re a global superpower, you need a lot of resources to stay on top: oil, energy, raw materials, nations under your influence so you can call them up when you need something like votes at the UN, and so on.
Today, China is in a similar position – they’re desperate for energy, money, and resources to continue their astronomical growth to the top.
Who knows in the long run what will happen with China’s colonialism. China has the ability to be forceful when needed, especially in their sphere.
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