South Asia and Beyond

Sri Lanka Made ‘Dumb Bets’ On China: CIA Chief

 Sri Lanka Made ‘Dumb Bets’ On China: CIA Chief

The chief of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has held China responsible for Sri Lanka’s economic collapse, saying Colombo’s “dumb bets” on high-debt Chinese investment have led to the catastrophic outcomes. “The Chinese have a lot of weight to throw around and they can make a very appealing case for their investments,” CIA Director William Burns said at the Aspen Security Forum. “Nations should look at a place like Sri Lanka today—heavily indebted to China—which has made some really dumb bets about their economic future and are suffering pretty catastrophic, both economic and political, consequences as a result,” he added. Burns warned that the situation in Sri Lanka should be a lesson to other countries. “That, I think, ought to be an object lesson to a lot of other players—not just in the Middle East or South Asia but around the world—about having your eyes wide open about those kinds of dealings.” This warning from the CIA comes a few days after IMF Director Kristalina Georgieva warned countries with high levels of debt. “Countries with high debt levels and limited policy space will face additional strains. Look no further than Sri Lanka as a warning sign,” the IMF Chief said. “Emerging and developing countries have also been experiencing sustained capital outflows for four months in a row. They now suffer the risk of reversing three decades of catching up with advanced economies and instead falling further behind,” she added.

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