Sri Lanka’s view
- Hambantota port is not part of a Chinese ‘string of pearls’ to surround India.
- Chinese investment in the Hambantota port is a purely economic one.
- The government had long insisted that the port development project was first offered to India and when there was no reaction, they had approached China.
- Only one phase is complete and the port has not been receiving as many ships as expected.
- Also, most of the larger companies setting up operations at the Hambantota port were Indian.
- As one of Sri Lanka’s key development partners over the last few years, China was an obvious nation to approach.
- It was only after many requests and representations at the highest levels in China, this assistance was granted.
- From the Chinese perspective, as its economy expanded through rapid development, it was only natural that its sphere of economic influence also expanded, hence building of China’s alleged ‘string of pearls’ ports include Gwadar in Pakistan, Marao in Maldives, Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Sittwe in Myanmar is justified.
- The ports could be “perceived by India” as an attempt to encircle it, but China is an “exponent of economic cooperation” which had been a “generous and steadfast friend to many countries in this region, including Sri Lanka”.
- Hambantota is located along the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The Port of Hambantota (also known as the Magampura Port) is a maritime port in Hambantota, Sri Lanka.
- The port was opened on 18 November 2010.
- Hambantota Port is built inland and operated by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
- Construction of the port began in January 2008. It will be Sri Lanka’s largest port, after the Port of Colombo.
- When completed, the port will be the biggest port constructed on land to date in the 21st century.
- Launched on 15 January 2008, the Hambantota Port is being constructed by the Chinese companies China Harbour Engineering Company and Sinohydro Corporation. The total cost of the first phase of the project is estimated at $360 million, excluding $76.5 million for the bunker terminal.
- 85% of the funding is provided by the Chinese Government and the remaining 15% by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
- After sailing 90 nautical miles from the Naval Base in Galle, Sri Lanka Navy’s ship “Jetliner” was the first vessel to drop anchor at the harbor.
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Q: Write a short note on the port facility in Sri Lanka built with Chinese assistance? What is Sri Lanka’s view of the geo-strategic implications of the project, if any?