Located at the crossroads of global shipping lanes, Sri Lanka has become a significant recipient of Chinese economic and military influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Chinese investments in port capacity have enabled Sri Lanka to enhance its strategic position in the Indian Ocean and become a regional trading hub, with future plans to develop its ability to become a financial center as well.
Access to the Indian Ocean’s sea routes is critical to Beijing, as today China is the world’s top oil importer, principally coming from the Middle East, passing through the Indian Ocean on its way to China.
Sri Lanka has been a critical partner in China’s expansive foreign policy and infrastructure-focused Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The situation further highlights Sri Lanka’s delicate balancing act between China and India. Colombo Port in Sri Lanka is particularly significant for India, as it handles roughly 40 percent of transshipped container cargo bound for the Indian market.