The Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka has likened comments made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a visit to Colombo to a gory video game, after the American diplomat accused the Chinese Communist Party of being a “predator”.
“Sorry Mr. Secretary @SecPompeo, we’re busy promoting #China-#SriLanka friendship and cooperation, not interested in your #AlienVsPredator game invitation. The US can play two roles at the same time as always,” the mission said on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
The tweet was accompanied by an image of the Aliens vs. Predator video game with the words, “New Episode: 3 November 2020” – the date of the US presidential election – added to the bottom.
Pompeo spent two days in Sri Lanka after earlier visiting India. The official is on a tour of South Asia as Washington seeks to bolster ties amid China’s growing political and economic influence in the strategically important region.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Pompeo took aim at Beijing and its growing investment in Sri Lanka.
“We see from bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and sea that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator, and the United States comes in a different way, we come as a friend, and as a partner,” he said.
China is one of Sri Lanka’s largest trading partners and its largest foreign investor, mostly under the Belt and Road Initiative, a multibillion-dollar investment programme to connect China with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks.
China-funded projects include Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium and Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port, all in or around Hambantota, in southern Sri Lanka.
In 2017, the Sri Lankan government was forced to hand over the running of the port to a Chinese state-owned company for 99 years after it was unable to meet the repayments on the money borrowed to build it.
The US has frequently cited Sri Lanka as an example of “debt trap diplomacy”, accusing China of building unsustainable infrastructure projects abroad that leave developing nations with unpayable debts.
Before Pompeo arrived in Colombo on Tuesday, the Chinese embassy accused the US of “importing risk” to a nation battling the coronavirus.
“In recent days, Sri Lanka has been facing the most severe challenge since the outbreak, and the local health system can no longer bear any imported risks,” it said.
The US should stop bullying Sri Lanka, it added after Washington said the island nation had to make “difficult but necessary choices” regarding its relationship with Beijing.