mandag 22. mars 2021

Sri Lanka is not renegotiating Hambantota port lease deal with China, ambassador says

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to China has dismissed suggestions the South Asian country is planning to extend a 99-year lease it granted to Beijing to run Hambantota port. Palitha Kohona said in an interview that his country would “never be an unsinkable aircraft carrier posing a threat to anyone else”, referring to China’s ongoing power struggles with the United States and India.

Hambantota’s location at the southern tip of Sri Lanka, overlooking South Asia’s vital sea lanes, makes it a potential key maritime hub in the Indian Ocean. Colombo agreed to hand over the running of the port in 2017 when it was unable to make the repayments on the Chinese loans used to develop it. “If there is a negotiation, it’s very secretive and nobody would say it to you. They are whispering to each other so that nobody else hears it,” Kohona said. He was responding to a question about reports that Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was revisiting the deal with China.