Watch: China to invest $1 billion in Sri Lanka port project

The deal follows an earlier Chinese investment of $1.4 billion to carry out reclamation work for the wider Colombo International Financial City development. Photograph:( WION )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 03, 2018, 12.27 PM (IST)

China is reportedly planning to invest $1 billion in the construction of three 60-storey buildings at a mega-project near Sri Lanka's main port, Colombo.

"China Harbour (company) will put in $1 billion to build three buildings," Sri Lanka's Urban Development Minister Champika Ranawaka said. 

"These three 60-storey buildings will be able to attract more foreign companies into Sri Lanka," he added.

Beijing's move is considered a way to boost its influence in the Indian Ocean.

The deal follows an earlier Chinese investment of $1.4 billion to carry out reclamation work for the wider Colombo International Financial City development.

It is located next to Sri Lanka's harbour, the only deep-sea container port in the region.

The project was initiated by the former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse and will create a financial centre in the Indian Ocean comparable with those in Singapore and Europe. 

Sri Lankan officials said 60 per cent of the 269 hectare (672 acre) reclamation which was due to finish next year has already been completed.

Colombo is a major hub for Indian import-export cargo.  After protests by New Delhi, Colombo removed freehold rights granted to the Chinese company and offered the land on a 99-year lease instead.