Chinese shadow as South Asian countries face political and social upheavals – WION

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (file photo). Photograph:( Twitter )
Sri Lanka faces economic challenges even as Colombo’s part engagement with Beijing has left huge debt 
With Pakistan and Sri Lanka facing economic and political instability, it will be hard to miss the Chinese shadow lingering in the background. 
Both countries, especially Pakistan have had a close relationship with Beijing. In fact, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi was among the key guest at Pakistan Day on March 23 this year. 

On Wednesday, at a daily Chinese foreign ministry presser, spokesperson Zhao Lijian pointed to the “all-weather strategic cooperative” partnership between the two countries saying, “history has proven time and again that China-Pakistan relations have always been unbreakable and rock-solid, no matter how the international landscape and their respective domestic situations may change”. 
On China Pakistan economic corridor that gives China a key connectivity route to the Arabian sea, a spokesperson assured that its construction will not be “affected by the political situation in Pakistan.” 

It is reported that a number of projects under CPEC have been shelved due to a lack of funds and the Pakistani rupee in a free fall. Gwadar, a key port in the project in restive Baluchistan province, saw a number of protests last year. 
Interestingly, spokesperson Lijian while emphasising on “principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs”, also advised that, “we sincerely hope that all parties in Pakistan will remain united and work together for national development and stability”. 
Sri Lanka faces economic challenges even as Colombo’s part engagement with Beijing has left huge debt. New Delhi has emerged as a major supporter of the country extending support worth about $2.5 billion since January, which includes 2 lines of credit–$500 million for fuel and $ 1 billion for food, medicine and essential supplies. 
Both lines of credit are in operation even as five consignments of diesel, petrol and aviation petrol have reached the Indian Ocean Island country. One stand-out is, that Indian support is seen without any strings, unlike Chinese “predatory practices”.
The Maldives is another country where attempts are being seen, by staying below the radar by China to form an anti-India narrative. 
A social media campaign has been seen #IndiaOut linked to former President Abdulla Yameen whose closeness to Beijing is well known. 
The social media campaign was started by and is sustained by the Chinese Communist Party, something which was evident in a photo leaked over social media in the last two weeks, which showed a sizeable presence of Chinese officials in one of the #IndiaOut campaigns.
A bill has been proposed with harsh penalties for anyone trying to jeopardise good relations with foreign ties, a key measure by the current Maldives government to rein in the campaign. 
The proposed new law will attract a penalty of 20,000 Maldivian Rufiyaa, besides a jail term of six months or house arrest of one year for insinuating that the Maldives is under the military, economic or political control of another foreign nation. 
The Maldives, under President Solih, has reaffirmed India’s first foreign policy multiple times. India has also emerged as a key development partner of the country. 
India’s External Affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar during his recent visit to the country announced and inaugurated a number of projects in the country including the police academy in Addu. 
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