Sri Lanka govt completes $1.1bn port deal with China
Colombo, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka on Saturday sealed a billion-dollar deal to let a Chinese state firm take over a loss-making port in a move that worries many, including its giant neighbour India.
The long-delayed US$1.1bn sale of a 70 per cent stake in Hambantota port, which straddles the world’s busiest eastwest shipping route, was confirmed by Sri Lanka’s Ports Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe.
The government used tough laws against industrial action to stop workers going on strike this week to oppose the sale to China Merchants Port Holdings.
“We have addressed geo-political concerns,” the minister said at a signing ceremony in Colombo. “China has accepted that everything in this agreement will operate under Sri Lankan law.”
The minister said this week that several countries had raised fears about the sale. India and the United States are known to be concerned that China getting a foothold at the deep-sea port could give it a military naval advantage in the Indian Ocean.
Samarasinghe said that Hambantota will not be a military base for any country.