But this should not come as a surprise. China’s shadow seems to loom dark over Sri Lanka whenever the Rajapaksa brothers—Mahinda and Gotabaya—win elections and come to power. Mahinda Rajapaksa is currently prime minister and minister for finance. He was president from 2005 to 2015, when Gotabaya served as defence minister. Today, Gotabaya is president; the Rajapaksas returned to power after the 2019 elections.
The previous Rajapaksa government had revelled in Chinese loans and projects, most famously the ambitious port built at Hambantota. Even though feasibility studies warned against it, the port was built by a Chinese state-owned enterprise with Chinese money. As expected, the port failed spectacularly. And the Chinese came to collect on their debt.