lørdag 22. mai 2021

Sri Lanka: Covid increases China influence in India's backyard

South Asia, a region with a combined population of nearly two billion people, is facing its worst health crisis in recent memory. India and its neighbours are seeing a ferocious spike in coronavirus infections, leaving smaller countries like Sri Lanka particularly vulnerable.

However, China is ramping up its relief efforts in these countries, which experts say could strengthen its influence there. China has donated 1.1 million Sinopharm vaccines to Sri Lanka which has helped resume its vaccination programme and the government has announced plans to purchase more, along with Sputnik. Experts say Sri Lanka has been exemplary in deploying vaccines for infectious diseases in the past and so people are not as hesitant about the Covid-19 vaccine as elsewhere in Asia.

There was some concern over the Chinese and Russian vaccines, but as cases have surged, people have been queueing up to get them. Beijing is also already providing financial assistance to Sri Lanka as its economy struggles under the strain of the pandemic. But some policy experts worry that this will only strengthen what critics refer to as China's "grip" on Sri Lanka.