Sri Lanka piles on more Chinese loans amid virus and debt crisis

COLOMBO — Saddled with heavy debts, and facing a financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus, Sri Lanka appears to be doubling down: piling on more Chinese debt despite having to pay millions of dollars this year to service its current obligations.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has twice turned to China in the last two months, desperate for a bailout as Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves dwindled to $7.2 billion in April. So far, Beijing has granted an “urgent” loan of $500 million to help it fight the virus. Then, last week, cabinet ministers approved a decision to borrow another 15 billion

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Pandemic helps Sri Lanka president bypass dissolved parliament

BANGKOK — President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is enjoying an extended political honeymoon in Sri Lanka with his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic — his first major test five months into his inaugural term.

The health crisis is a political shot in the arm for Rajapaksa, who hails from the country’s most influential political clan. The pandemic continues as the merits of conducting parliamentary elections on June 20 are being considered for the strategically located island in the Indian Ocean.

The national election commission has not ruled out postponing the poll if COVID-19 infection rates worsen. A delay would benefit the hawkish

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