Jul 29, 2017

Hambantota port: “India may face difficulties” Featured

By engaging a Chinese company for the operations of the strategically important Hambantota port, neighbouring India could also face difficulties, MP Namal Rajapaksa said.

The agreement for the operations activities of the Hambantota port under a state, private sector partnership was signed today (29) in Colombo.

The two main stakeholders in this agreement are the Sri Lankan government and the China Merchant Holding Company.

Expressing his views to the BBC Sinhala Service, MP Namal Rajapaksa said as this agreement would undermine Sri Lanka’s Sovereignty, he is against it.

However, the government has reiterated that this agreement will in no way undermine Sri Lanka’s Sovereignty.

According to the agreement, the Sri Lankan government and China Merchant Port Holding Company are expected to set up two companies.

“Betrayal of the country”

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In September 2014 Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Sri Lanka.

According to Namal Rajapaksa, the Port Authority will get only 42% of one of the companies handling the security services of the Hambantota port naval vessels, rapid response, environmental pollution control and naval services.

Further as 85% of the other revenue generating company belongs to the Chinese company, its income will also go to China.
As Sri Lanka only holds 15%, the proposed construction, infrastructure facilities and commercial activities will be controlled by the Chinese company, he said.

On Saturday morning a protest was staged opposite the Port Authority against the signing of the agreement.

The protest was organised by the Port workers union and they alleged that by selling the Hambantota port to the Chinese, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have betrayed the country.

The JVP too had organised a protest in Ambalantota against the signing of this agreement.

“One belt – One road”

wirodaya Port Authority workers protest

Meanwhile expressing his views subsequent to the signing of the agreement, China Merchant Deputy Chairman Dr. Hu Jianhwa said, the ownership of the Hambantota port belongs to the Sri Lankan people.

“People have a nationality and citizenship. But in investments and business there are no territorial boundaries. This port has been constructed in Hambantota and no one can move it from there. Its ownership lies with the people of Sri Lanka,” he said.

The Hambantota port is a strategic link in the belt and road initiative connecting the ports from China to Europe.

Regional rivals India and China are also on the alert.

After the war

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'One belt-One road’

The Sri Lankan government claims that they had entered into this agreement with China in order to assist in getting the country out of the debt trap.

After the conclusion of the war in 2009, the then government headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa had obtained loans from China running into billions of dollars for the development of highways, ports and airports.

The current government having facing the dilemma of repaying these loans claim to have signed this agreement which is expected to help settle part of the loan obtained by the previous regime.

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