China, Pakistan deepen Sri Lanka ties at Indiaâ€™s expense - Economic Times NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision to skip the Commonwealth Summit in Colombo due to intense domestic political pressure is likely to give China and Pakistan an opportunity to deepen their relations with Sri Lanka at India's expense. Both China and Pakistan have expanded their footprints in the war-ravaged island nation in recent years, a development that strategic experts say does not bode well for India. "Sri Lanka's strategic location in the Indian Ocean region is eyed by several countries. This makes Sri Lanka all the more important for India. The PM's trip would have underlined New Delhi's commitment to India. While India shares historical ties with Sri Lanka and has several projects there, other countries in the neighbourhood are increasing their presence in Sri Lanka," said an official, who did not wish to be named. China started making inroads into Sri Lanka's strategic infrastructure sector about a decade ago. The process gained momentum after LTTE was defeated in May 2009 with the help of arms supplied by China, the official said. The venue for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) - Bandaranaike Memorial International Convention Hall (BMICH) in Colombo - was also renovated following China's grant of $15.3 million. On October 24, when Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa moved a resolution asking the Centre to "totally boycott" this year's CHOGM, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was thanking China for renovating the BMICH while inaugurating it. And two years ago, when Jayalalithaa targeted the Centre over the Tamil issue, Sri Lanka was negotiating with China to finalise a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which was the biggest development in Sino-Lanka cooperation since the 1952 Rubber-Rice Pact. According to China's official press agency Xinhua, 42 Chinese companies were among the 83 foreign companies participating in the trade exhibition 'Reflections of Sri Lanka' being held on the sidelines of CHOGM. In comparison, only 21 companies will represent India at the exhibition even as India is Sri Lanka's largest trading partner. India has a flourishing FTA with Sri Lanka since 1996 that has helped India-Sri Lanka trade to grow from $600 million in 2000 to $5billion in 2012. But China is looking at increasing trade with Sri Lanka after their FTA. Ever since Tamil sentiments kept India away from Sri Lanka, China stepped in.