China tells US not to ‘bully’ Sri Lanka | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 28, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:21 AM, October 28, 2020

China tells US not to ‘bully’ Sri Lanka

China yesterday warned the United States not to "coerce and bully" Sri Lanka ahead of a visit to the strategically-placed island by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

Pompeo is expected to raise rights issues when he meets the Rajapaksas today in Colombo which is under a partial lockdown because of a surge in coronavirus infections.

Pompeo is expected to ask Colombo to make "difficult" choices on its blossoming relationship with Beijing during his visit.

"We are firmly opposed to the United States taking the opportunity of the State Secretary's visit to sow and interfere in China-Sri Lanka relations, and to coerce and bully Sri Lanka," China's embassy in Colombo said.

The top US diplomat for South Asia, Dean Thompson, said at the start of Pompeo's four-nation tour of Indian Ocean nations -- India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia -- that he will ask Colombo to review options offered by Washington.

The US visit comes less than three weeks after Yang Jiechi, a Chinese Community Party politburo member, pledged more economic help to Sri Lanka during a visit.

Colombo has leaned heavily on China for loans and diplomatic support to fight off allegations of human rights violations, particularly in the final months of a brutal decades-long civil war.

Washington has insisted on credible investigations into charges that Sri Lankan troops killed at least 40,000 civilians while crushing Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the island's top defence official and his brother Mahinda was president when the final onslaught was carried out. Mahinda is now prime minister. 

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