Feature Article

Chinese media refute US accusation of debt-trap diplomacy in Colombo, Hambantota

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 November 2018, 18:34 GMT]
Chinese media is attempting to counter the allegations coming from the US Defence Establishment and media with particular reference to 99-year-leases in Hambantota and Colombo port city projects being carried out as part of the 2013 Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China. Global Times, the English version of the paper operated by the Communist Party of China, in an op-ed published on 05 November said: “According to Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Chinese loans made up 10 percent of Sri Lanka's total foreign debt at the end of 2017 while loans from Japan reached 12 per cent, India 3 per cent and the Japan-led Asian Development Bank 14 per cent.”

“[T]he feud between two political parties has no relation with either China or India. Bringing the two countries into the analysis would actually amount to ignoring the needs and demands of Sri Lanka,” the op-ed further said.

The Global Times article was also suggesting that “India should become less suspicious and cooperate with China in Sri Lanka to jointly enhance the latter's self-development capabilities.”

A spotlight feature published by the Chinese news agency, Xinhua on 05 November was quoting SL Ports Authority Chairman Parakrama Dissanayake as saying that the Colombo International Container Terminal had become the “trans-shipment hub of South Asia”.

Dissanayake also described Hambantota as the future “industrial gateway to the Indian sub-continent.”

Colombo is aiming to evolve the Colombo International Financial Centre (CIFC) and other related services within the Colombo Port City Development, into a major financial hub located between Dubai and Singapore.

“The completion of CIFC, along with the proposed National Logistics Policy for Shipping and Air Transportation, and the Telecommunication Connectivity Policy will establish Sri Lanka as the hub of the Indian Ocean,” states Vision 2025 document issued by Ranil Wickramasinghe's government.

Colombo Port Project


On the one hand, Wickramasinghe was working with IMF and World Bank, and on the other, he was dealing with China. He attended the Leaders Roundtable of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on 15 May 2017 in Beijing.

A joint communique issued by the leaders, who attended the BRI Roundtable proclaimed the shared responsibilities, common goals and the common aspiration of the China-led endeavour as follows: “We reiterate that promoting peace, mutually-beneficial cooperation, and honoring the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and international law are our shared responsibilities; achieving inclusive and sustainable growth and development, and improving people's quality of life are our common goals; creating a prosperous and peaceful community with shared future for mankind is our common aspiration.”

Colombo Port City is a showcase for Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, the scheme championed by China’s President Xi Jinping to build trade and infrastructure networks across the world, writes Matt Wade, a senior writer for The Sydney Morning Herald, writes in a feature published on 03 November.

“About 65 per cent of the ‘saleable’ or ‘marketable’ land reclaimed for the Port City project will be held by the developer on a 99-year lease, with the remainder going to the Sri Lankan government.”

Brahma Chellaney, professor of Strategic Studies at the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, was describing the mega-project as China's “strategic foothold in the Sri Lankan capital,” the Sydney Morning Herald feature says.

The feature was titled “China’s 'extraordinary' ambitions: the futuristic city being built on reclaimed land.”


External Links:
Global Times: Sri Lanka provides right ground for implementing ‘China-India Plus’ plan
Xinhua: Cooperation under China’s BRI accelerates Sri Lanka’s port industry development
The Sydney Morning Herald: China’s 'extraordinary' ambitions: the futuristic city being built on reclaimed land


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