New President in Sri Lanka Puts China’s Plans in Check


NEW DELHI — On a Sunday four months ago, a vessel pulled unannounced into Sri Lanka’s Colombo harbor: the Chinese Navy submarine Great Wall No. 329, which is designed to carry torpedoes, a cruise missile and a 360-pound warhead.

Sri Lanka’s defense minister shrugged it off as an “operational good-will visit.” But anxiety was already radiating as far as New Delhi, where the visit was seen as a clear declaration that China had arrived in India’s backyard — with the blessing of Sri Lanka’s president at the time, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Whatever China’s long-term plans were for strategically important Sri Lanka, they met with a sudden obstruction on Friday morning, when Mr. Rajapaksa was voted out of office in a startling upset.

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