Hambantota Port Concession Agreement

It should be noted that China is Sri Lanka`s largest trading partner when it comes to China-Sri Lankan economic relations and places India, which has long dominated, in second place. Combined import and export trade between China and Sri Lanka last year amounted to $4.426 billion, compared with US$4.369 billion in Indo-Sri Lanka. In 2016, China invested more than $52 million in Sri Lanka at the same time. The proposed free trade agreement between China and Sri Lanka is expected to be the “crown jewel” in bilateral economic relations. Beijing has only one foreign military base for the People`s Liberation Army Navy in Djibouti, near the port of Doraleh. The base was officially opened in August 2017. It should be remembered that since Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the Silk Roads Initiative four years ago, the initiative has always focused on civilian projects to help developing countries, and China respects the security concerns of these countries when advancing infrastructure development. The new port agreement aims to promote Sri Lanka`s economic development. It is not used for Ships of the Chinese Navy. Japan views China`s rapid progress in port development under the Belt and Road Initiative as a challenge to its influence in Asia and is trying to expand its participation in major infrastructure projects in order to maintain its position. On the other hand, the U.S. fears that China will establish itself in the deep-water port, which could give it a naval advantage in the Indian Ocean. China`s acquisition of the port of Hambantota is exclusively for civilian purposes, according to Sri Lankan government assurances.

India also played a crucial role in suspending the Hambantota Port Agreement. India is often biased when it considers Chinese investments in Sri Lanka. Some Indian media have accused China of making the port of Hambantota a naval base and have criticized the project as China`s “debt trap diplomacy.” India feared that China would create a military encirclement around India. But India`s concerns about China`s infrastructure are not necessary, as China has no military plans in Hambantota. . . .

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