China Pushes for Unfreezing of Sri Lanka Port Project

China is investing diplomatic efforts to put plans for construction of a USD 1.5 billion port city project in Sri Lanka back on track.

Sri Lanka’s new government suspended the plan to construct a commercial and residential center near the Colombo Port on March 5th amid raised concerns over the project’s environmental impact and regulatory issues.

In addition, the new government announced that the plan is subject to revision as numerous others approved during the previous regime of Mahenda Rajapaksa.

In a recently held meeting the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Yi Xianliang asked the Sri Lankan side to respect bilateral agreements and business contracts, and protect the interests of its investors, Xinhua news agency reports.

On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s deputy minister of justice Sujeewa Senasinghe, said that new laws were being compiled, to investigate allegations of large scale fraud in transactions with China.

China’s Foreign Ministry said it would pay close attention on how this will play out.

The Colombo port plan entailed an investment of USD 1.5 billion by China Harbor Engineering Co. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of state-owned China Communications Construction Co. The investment would have been used to build berths for vessels at the nearby port, hotels, shopping centers, office buildings and residential complexes, encompassing  an area of over 5.3 million square meters.

The investment was earmarked within the framework of China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative.

World Maritime News Staff; Image: