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Chinese-funded projects benefit Presidents, PMs – Verve Times


‘Banking on Beijing’, published by Cambridge University Press, found that in those countries that receive Chinese financial support, funding for the political leader’s home province increased by 52% during the years when the leader was in power.
In the run-up to the elections, constituencies of key leaders often saw sharp increases in Chinese government-backed funding. In Sri Lanka, during his tenure as president from 2005-2015, Mahinda Rajapaksa tried to transform the remote Hambantota district (home to only 12,000 residents) – into a second capital through Chinese-backed infrastructure building, including a huge international airport. But the project was unviable as the airport hardly received any traffic. The Hambantota Port built by the Chinese serves Beijing’s strategic purpose in the Indian Ocean Region much to India’s discomfort.

In 2007, a cable from the US embassy in Colombo, noted: “An empty port, an empty airport, and an empty vast convention centre would not generate the benefits that Hambantota needs, and may, if constructed, be considered the president’s folly.”
In the West African state of Sierra Leone, when Ernest Bai Koroma became the president in 2007, his home district, Bombali, was one of the country’s four most populous districts but also one of the poorest. His rise to political stardom quickly changed the situation for the district due to Chinese funds, according to the new book. By the end of Koroma’s second term, the district’s capital, Makeni, was one of the few places with 24-hour electricity, according to the book.
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