‘China’s role in Hambantota Port not mean a debt trap’

COLOMBO: The infrastructure project in Hambantota Port that China is involved in is not a “debt trap” set up by China as some have claimed, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said on Friday, refuting smears made by Western countries.
“Many geo-political analysts interpret this project as a ‘debt trap’ set up by China to gain control over Sri Lankan affairs. I want to prove that it is not the case,” Rajapaksa told the visiting Chinese delegation that led by senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi on Friday. Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and also director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, arrived in Sri Lanka on Thursday for an official visit.
Rajapaksa believes the project possesses a vast potential for generating income and employment opportunities for his country. “This large-scale project will help improve the living standards of the people.” In an official statement released after meeting with Yang on Friday, the president also said that “constructing a port in Hambantota is an idea of Sri Lanka and not China’s. China offered to fund it.”
The president said he looked forward to seeing a visible progress in the Port City project over the next four years. His 13 visits to China have helped him witness the development and progress that China has achieved. He believes similar development can be achieved in his country, especially in rural areas.
According to the agreement that Sri Lanka inked with China in 2017, China Merchants Port Holdings, which is entitled to manage the operations of the Hambantota port, owns 70 percent stake of the port while Sri Lanka Ports Authority owns 30 percent, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Western media including The New York Times have labelled China’s involvement in the Hambantota port as a “debt trap.” In an article titled “How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port,” The New York Times hyped up the military use of the port.
– The Daily Mail-Global Times News exchange item