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International relations

China poised for diplomatic windfall in Sri Lanka elections

Beijing backs politicians and influential Buddhist leaders, expert says

Chinese President Xi Jinping, pictured here next to Mahinda Rajapaksa, a former president of Sri Lanka, appears to have outplayed India and the U.S. in a strategically located island nation that votes for its parliament in a little more than two weeks.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- China is cultivating a wide swathe of political allies in Sri Lanka ahead of the nation's general elections on Aug. 5, marking a break from throwing its lot in with one dominant political camp.

Foreign policy insiders in the small South Asian nation reckon the strategy fortifies the edge China has over geopolitical adversaries India, Japan and the U.S. when it comes to influencing a country that straddles an increasingly contested stretch of the Indian Ocean.

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