Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan met and held talks with Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday (March 20), kicking off a visit that could unnerve neighboring India.
China has invested heavily in Sri Lanka, funding airports, roads, railways and ports, and including the island nation of 21 million people on its “One Belt, One Road” mission to create a modern-day “Silk Road” across Asia.
In 2014, Sri Lanka allowed a Chinese submarine and a warship to dock at its port in the capital Colombo, prompting concern in New Delhi.
After Sri Lanka, Chang will be travelling to Nepal, which serves as a natural buffer between China and India, challenging India’s long-held position as the dominant outside power in the landlocked nation. China has been vying to increase its influence there too.