No Chinese military activity at Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka, envoy assures
Sat, Feb 4, 2017, 09:39 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Feb 04, Beijing: Allaying India’s fears, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to China Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku has assured that Chinese military activity will not be allowed at the Hambantota Port following the handover of 80 percent stakes of the strategic port to a Chinese firm.
“I do not know about other countries but Sri Lanka has very categorically informed the (Chinese) investor that it will not be allowed to be used for any military purposes,” Ambassador Karunasena Kodituwakku told the media on the sidelines of Sri Lankan Independence Day reception in Beijing.
The envoy played down protests by locals and labor unions over handing of 80 per cent stakes of the Hambantota port to a Chinese firm and said that considering India’s concerns, no military activity will be allowed at the port, Press Trust of India reported.
Admitting concerns expressed by China over the protests, the Ambassador said: “Despite the opposition from a small group, the government will go ahead.”
The government signed a framework agreement in December regarding the port with China Merchant Holdings and according to the agreement, 80 percent of shares of the Port of Hambantota will be given to the Chinese company for USD 1.12 billion. The rest will be held by the Sri Lanka Port Authority.
Last month Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe accompanied by the Ambassador of China to Colombo Yi Xianliang inaugurated a special industrial zone in Hambantota amid protests by joint opposition politicians and Buddhist monks to bring in Chinese investors.
The Ambassador said Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe would attend the high-profile One Belt One Road (Silk Road) summit called by Chinese President Xi Jinping in May.
Wickremesinghe’s presence at the Silk Road summit as China regards Sri Lanka as an important base for its 21st Maritime Silk Road in the Indian Ocean over which India has expressed strong reservations.