By BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI, KRUTIKA PATHI and JOE McDONALD
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — China says its initiative to build ports and other infrastructure across Asia and Africa, paid for with Chinese loans, will boost trade. But Sri Lanka’s multibillion-dollar debt to Beijing threatens to hold back efforts to resolve a financial crisis so severe that this Indian Ocean nation cannot import food or gasoline. Other countries also have struggled to repay what some say is excessive debt from Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. Sri Lanka ran out of foreign currency in April, leading to food shortages and power cuts. China says it will “play a positive role” but has yet to say whether it might reduce Sri Lanka’s debt, possibly for fear other borrowers will demand the same relief.