Willing to work with Sri Lanka to promote development of Hambantota Port: China

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 23, 2019, 08.10 AM(IST)

File photo of Hambantota Port. Photograph:( Others )

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China in its statement also reiterated it respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

China has welcomed Sri Lanka's clarification with regard to the Hambantota Port agreement.

The Chinese embassy released a statement saying that it appreciates President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s remarks at a meeting with foreign correspondents. 

“China is willing to guide relevant enterprises to work with the Sri Lankan side to expedite implementing the established agreement and further promote the prosperity and development of Hambantota Port,” it said. 

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had earlier stated that his government will not re-negotiate the existing agreement with China and the commercial agreement.

China in its statement also reiterated it respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

PM Mahida Rajapaksa while speaking to China's state media had expressed confidence in Sri Lanka's ability to repay the loans for the Hambantota Port. Mahinda Rajapaksa had also added that Sri Lanka and China will implement big projects like the Hambantota Port and the Colombo Port City.

Reacting to the development, the Chinese embassy added that the security and control of Hambantota Port will entirely be in the hands of the Sri Lankan government and Navy, just like all other ports in the island nation. 

The southern sea port was leased to China in 2017 by Sri Lanka for 99 years amid concern over Beijing's efforts to expand influence in the region.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his visit to India had said Sri Lanka wants to work very closely with both India and China.

The Hambantota port was a major Chinese-assisted infrastructure project in the home district of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa which attracted controversy as experts saw it as China's attempt to increase its military might in the Indian Ocean region with fears of Chinese government using it as part of its Belt and Road initiative(BRI).

China has repeatedly dismissed reports of military dimension in the port deal.

Last year a Bloomberg report had said Hambantota is only handling about one ship a day, and when compared to competitors in Singapore, Malaysia and the Middle East, it isn't at present a viable operation.