Bengaluru: Yoshitha Rajapaksa, a 32-year-old Lieutenant Commander with the Sri Lankan Navy, took charge as Chief of Staff at the Prime Minister's office on Friday. The Prime Minister happens to be his own father Mahinda Rajapaksa. In Sri Lanka, it is not a big deal as the island nation has had a history of Presidents and Prime Ministers appointing their own kith and kin to high offices under them.
Who first broke the news of his appointment to media itself is news here. The all powerful Chinese embassy in Colombo broke the news in a tweet. The media was totally unaware of PM's second son's new job till the Charge D Affairs at the Chinese Embassy posted a tweet congratulating Yoshitha on his new assignment.
In a tweet, the Chinese Embassy said its Charge D Affairs Hu Wei congratulated Yoshitha for being appointed as Chief of Staff to the PM.
A surprised Sri Lankan media later carried the news. Leading weekly newspaper The Sunday Times wrote that "until the Chinese Embassy tweeted about the appointment of Prime Minister's new Chief of Staff his second son Yoshitha Rajapaksa, many in the newsrooms were not aware of the appointment.”
China, which has invested heavily in Sri Lanka over the past 15 years, has renewed its business and strategic interests after the new regime took charge 11 months ago. There was a lull between 2015 and 2019 as the regime opposed to Rajapaksas was in power.
During the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, China has bailed out Sri Lanka by providing generous loans to meet the mounting expenses in a cash-strapped economy.
High ranking Chinese officials have been visiting Sri Lanka quiet often these days. The Sri Lankan government, however, asserts that they follow India-first policy and China is just a friend and India is an elder sister.
Both the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his elder brother the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa always maintain that India need not worry about the Chinese presence in their country.