India Checkmates China in Sri Lanka; Acquires Airport Next to Hambantota Port

After China leased the Hambantota Port from Sri Lanka, India now seeks the control of the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in the vicinity of the Hambantota Port. China’s control over the Hambantota Port raises security concerns for India and hence New Delhi is willing to buy stakes in the world’s emptiest airport and keep a bird’s eye view on China. 

Why is Hambantota Port a Virtual Battleground between India and China?

Hambantota Port is of strategic relevance to both India and China. China can pose serious security threats to India for the Hambantota Port lies in the backyard of India. Now to counter this security threat, India is ready to operate the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, despite the fact that it has no scheduled flights.

Clearly, India’s intent is to observe the Chinese activities on the Hambantota Port and gather vital intelligence. Even the Hambantota Port is one of the emptiest ports with almost no ships, and China’s interests too are not just limited to commercial purposes. China would not have bought an empty port for USD 1.1 billion.

Indian Stake in Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport

As per sources, India could buy a 70% stake in the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport for a time period of 40 years. Recently the officials from India and Sri Lanka discussed the feasibility for a joint venture to operate and run the abandoned airport. Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport had only one flight operating and that too was quashed on June 8. The flight was operated by Fly Dubai.

China’s interests in Sri Lanka not only bothers India but also worries Washington and Tokyo. With India buying stakes in Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, New Delhi would be able to keep a “hawk’s eye” on China and ensure Beijing’s naval movements are well tracked.

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