China appears to be shifting its strategic focus toward Southeast Asia and Africa, Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, noting that South Asian countries in financial trouble aren’t getting the same attention from Beijing as before.

In an interview Monday, Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka couldn’t tap a $1.5 billion credit line from Beijing and has yet to hear back on his request to President Xi Jinping for a $1 billion loan to buy essential goods. He said China indicated it would help Sri Lanka, while adding that "usually they don’t like” lending out more money to cover earlier debt payments.

"My analysis is that China has shifted their strategic focus into Southeast Asia,” Rajapaksa said in an interview Monday at his official residence in Colombo. "They see more strategic interest in Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, that region, and Africa.”