The Chinese government is messaging loudly that a China-centric international order would best serve the interests of the Global South. The current crisis in Sri Lanka seems to run counter to that narrative.
After months of unrest, Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country on July 13. In China, one of the island’s key creditors over the past two decades, the main reaction was silence.
For months, Chinese messaging has pushed the idea that ‘the West,’ first and foremost the United States, conduct world affairs with at best disregard, and often malice, toward the Global South. The implicit promise at the heart of Beijing’s discourse is that a China-led world order would be fairer and more advantageous for developing nations. Now, these aspirations to be seen as the champion of the Global South must contend with the collapse of a country whose prosperity was widely perceived to rely on China.