Responding to Sri Lanka’s request for China to change its tune on debt relief, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy said the ball is in Sri Lanka’s court, not China’s.
The spokesman told Daily Mirror China communicated to the Sri Lankan Finance Ministry three months ago about its readiness to discuss how to address the debt issue with the Chinese banks.
He said China encouraged its banks to discuss it. The Chinese position was also communicated during the telephone conversation between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and then Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“We sent proposals to the Finance Ministry. But, there was no response from them. Also, Sri Lanka insisted that it should complete the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) first. The ball is in Sri Lanka’s court,” the spokesman said.
Sri Lanka’s total bilateral debt was estimated at $6.2 billion at the end of 2020 by the IMF.
Japan and China hold the largest shares. India has provided around $4 billion to help keep Sri Lanka’s economy afloat, mainly through credit lines and swaps this year. Sri Lanka also has $14 billion of international sovereign bond debt. (Kelum Bandara)