Speakers draw on the findings from a recent Chatham House paper to discuss the lessons that may improve future BRI projects in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the region. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is having profound impacts on recipient countries. Recently, Chinese outbound investment in Sri Lanka has come under scrutiny due to intensifying geopolitical rivalries in the Indian Ocean as well as Sri Lanka’s prime location and ports in the region. Much of the analysis on this topic so far has focused on how the economic relationship has informed Chinese geopolitical ambitions, via a so-called ‘debt-trap diplomacy’. Such a framing may be misleading, while also overlooking other dimensions of Chinese investment that warrant closer examination.