The reason China provided the IMF facility letter to Sri Lanka is a mystery. According to Chinese embassy sources, even the Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka was unaware of the letter until it arrived from Beijing, China. When journalists connected to the Chinese Embassy questioned whether the letter would be provided as required by the IMF, the Chinese Ambassador responded that it would be difficult for China to provide a letter in the manner required by the IMF.
Chinese embassy sources say that the Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka too was also curious about the issuance of the letter as IMF required. President Ranil’s colleagues called this Chinese letter as a victory for Ranil.
Ranil won China’s trust because he changed his decision to cancel the Colombo Port City project which he said before the 2015 presidential election. Similarly, Hambantota port was handed over to China for a 99-year lease amid public protests. After this agreement, Ranil’s government gave the Hambantota oil storage bunkering to the Chinese Sinopec company. The bunkering operation was scheduled to begin in late 2019. But the candidate of Ranil’s government was defeated in the 2019 presidential election.
The cabinet including Ranil had to leave. Chinese relations became distant after Gotabaya became president. As soon as Gotabhaya stepped down from the presidency and Ranil became president, China’s Yuan Wang Spy Ship was allowed to come to Hambantota port for refuelling. Although America and India strongly protested this, the Spy Ship arrived at Hambantota port.
After this Indian media reported that Sri Lankan Vessels were loading fuel from Hambanthota port and refueling Chinese warships on high seas. India has expressed serious concerns to Colombo for allowing surprise refueling of Chinese military vessels on high seas with Sri Lankan tankers picking up fuel from Chinese leased Hambanthota sea port. It was also reported that a top security official from India came to Sri Lanka to discuss this matter.
But it is clear that China is implementing the understandings made with Ranil’s government before 2019 after Ranil became president again.
2017 Ranil handed over Hambantota port to China. In 2019, the port oil bunkering project was awarded. 2022 After Ranil became President, the first Chinese spy ship arrived at Hambantota Port. After that, Chinese military ships in the middle of the sea were filled with oil by Sri Lankan vessels. Now the Chinese company Sinopec has submitted a tender to build an oil refinery at Hambantota port. China is using its Soft Power, Hard power and Sharp power to implement its agenda well.
Although the China agenda retreated during Gotabaya’s presidency, it is slowly being implemented again. During the last period of Gotabaya’s government, the Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka made a big show by visiting the north. India was worried. But China is strengthening its power in the port of Hambantota by showing that it is going to show their presence in the north.
It is unknown whether China gave the IMF letter to get what they wanted through Ranil that they couldn’t get through Gota.