Afraid of the frantic manoeuvring by the Chinese dragon, frightened nations around the world pinned their hopes on India. On several occasions near the Indo-China border, the Indian Army has time and again humbled China’s expansionist ambitions. Parallelly, the Modi government accelerated the decoupling of Indian economy from China.
But the latest development is a glaring victory of India’s prudent diplomacy over the deep pockets of China in a third country. On account of assertive and tactful diplomatic decisions, India has outmanoeuvred China in the island nation, Sri Lanka.
Tables have turned on the expansionist bully
For nearly seven decades, Indian administrations worked with a decisive goal to bridge the gap with China on several parameters, be it economic progress or soft and hard power throughout the world. On account of varied reasons, both good and bad, authoritarian-ruled China enjoyed the added advantage over democratically-governed India.
Even after having plenty of resources at its disposal, China has failed miserably in Sri Lanka. It desperately wanted to garner public support in its favour and peddle anti-India sentiments among Lankan society. With meticulous diplomacy, the Modi government has tied the Chinese dragon in knots.
Defeating China in the ongoing shadow boxing in Sri Lanka, India became the first nation to support IMF assistance for Sri Lanka. Speaking on the development, IMF recently confirmed that it has received a receipt of India’s financing assurances for Sri Lanka.
This major diplomatic defeat has forced China to play the catch-up game with India. However, in this game too China is failing miserably to belittle India’s soft-power in Sri Lanka.
The catch-up game explained
Sri Lanka is one of the prominent examples of nations whose economy was badly devastated by China through the “lofty idea” of loans to boost infrastructure development. Facing its worst-economic crisis, Sri Lanka has been desperately trying to secure a $2.9 billion bailout package from the IMF.
For the IMF package, Sri Lanka needed financing assurances from its biggest bilateral creditors namely India, China and Japan. Taking cue from India, Japan too has hinted at supporting Sri Lanka in getting the IMF bailout package. Through this aggressive step of financial assurance, India has caught China in a fix.
Now, India is thoroughly exposing the Chinese model of debt-trap in Sri Lanka. Consequently, eroding any goodwill that China may have created for itself in the island nation. Lambasting the CCP, Lankans have started to realise that China is the biggest roadblock in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery.
Further, media reports suggest that China is falling short in offering Sri Lanka the financial assurance it needs to get the IMF package. Rather than committing to debt-restructuring, media reports suggest that China is buying time and leaving Lankans on their miserable fate.
Reportedly, China has conveyed that it will continue the negotiations of debt restructuring with Sri Lanka and has asked the island nation to keep hoping for the best.
Will QUAD take India’s cue?
Amid all of this, 2023 can be a year of redemption for QUAD. The group badly needs to take actions on the ground. Through the above-mentioned assertive step, India has dumped China in its own pit. Now, it is for QUAD to pursue India’s proposals in the group to ascertain Sri Lanka’s economic recovery. If QUAD really wants to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific, it has to start putting money where the mouth is.
There can’t be a better timing than this year. In addition to the G20 Presidency, India will host the meeting of QUAD leaders. So, if QUAD plays its cards right, Sri Lanka may become the humble beginning where the group can completely shatter the evil decisions of China.
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