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What is China’s Real Role in Sri Lanka’s Debt Crisis?

File image of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaking with Sri Lanka's former Prime Minister Malinda Rajapakse in Colombo on January 9, 2022. Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP

Few debt crises have triggered as much disinformation as Sri Lanka’s. The country is currently grappling with a complex debt restructuring process amid its worst economic crisis since independence. The role of Chinese debt has drawn much attention and many false narratives – not least the allegation that Hambantota Port was seized in a Chinese ‘debt trap.’

Now two Sri Lankan economists, Umesh Moramudali and Thilina Panduwawala, provided a detailed timeline of the crisis and China’s part in it. Their account is a great resource for those tracking the Sri Lankan crisis and for viewers of similar situations in Zambia and elsewhere.

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