Sri Lanka has made it clear that it would not let China use the Hambantota port for military purposes. China made a large investment in the Hambantota port with the aim of checking Delhi’s influence in the Indian Ocean. But the Defence Minister of Sri Lanka, Ruwan Wijewardne stated that Sri Lanka will not allow Beijing to use the Hambantota port for any military purposes, giving a relief to India.
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Southern Sri Lanka region where the Hambantota Port is located has been dominated by India for long and has been the stronghold of India’s influence in the region. The Hambantota port is located in the very busy East-West shipping route and China’s investments in the Hambantota port give Bejing a stronghold in the region.
As EurAsian Times reported earlier, Colombo allowed China to own and operate the Hambantota port for a period 99 years. The Sri Lankan government leased out the port to China for USD 1 billion dollars as China showed a keen interest in operating the strategic port. The port was given on a lease as Sri Lanka could not serve out the loans committed to Beijing by the former government of Mahinda Rajapakse.
India and China are at loggerheads to emerge as the greatest regional power and both have adopted vibrant policies in the pursuit of their ambitions. After Sri Lanka leased out the Hambantota port, EurAsian Times reported about India showing great interest in handling the operations of the Mattala Rajapaksha Airport near Hambantota port which is believed to be the emptiest airport in the world.
Sri Lankan government is working on a draft to hand over the operations of the airport to Indian airport operators. India’s interest in operating the airport is surely based to keep an eye of China’s actions in the Hambantota port.