China’s Buddhist strategic narratives in Sri Lanka—benefits and Buddhism?
Tabita Rosendal has published an article on China’s use of Buddhist strategic narratives in Sri Lanka
The article, published in The Pacific Review, analyzes how China’s Buddhist strategic narratives have been used to further the Belt and Road Initiative’s (BRI) progress in Sri Lanka, and argues that under the BRI’s ‘people-to-people’ bonds, Chinese and Sri Lankan officials have used the Buddhist history and exchanges between the two nations to advocate for BRI projects, and to strengthen their cultural ties.
The article finds, more narrowly, that China’s Buddhist diplomacy in Sri Lanka has increased since the BRI’s inception, and that it has focused on enhancing bilateral relations and mitigating criticism of projects. China’s strategic narratives have been somewhat successful, but since they are employed alongside economic investments, their precise impact is difficult to measure.
More broadly, the article notes that the CCP is increasingly positioning itself and the BRI through religious strategic narratives to mitigate criticism and further its interests and stature in the international system. However, while China’s projection of Buddhist strategic narratives, in tandem with infrastructure investments, may ensure the BRI’s continued implementation, this depends on the willingness of host countries of accepting these narratives.