From the start, Sri Lanka bought into Xi’s Belt and Road vision enthusiastically. The nation welcomed infusions of Chinese cash to build several infrastructure projects including the Hambantota Port on Sri Lanka’s southern coast. But it didn’t take long for Sri Lankans to see that they couldn’t repay the loans on Beijing’s terms.
In 2017, they determined that their only option was to hand China a controlling stake in the Hambantota Port for a period of 99 years. This transfer set off alarms in Sri Lanka and beyond with China facing accusations of setting a “debt trap” to give itself a potential military footing in Sri Lanka.
“The acquisition provided Beijing with a deepwater port in the region in which it can dock its navy off the coast of its key regional competitor, India,” Foreign Policy wrote on Oct. 29, 2018.
But the leadership in Sri Lanka seems not to have been worried by this handover of a vital national asset to China. And now it is happening again.
“… China has already pumped millions into the project,” World Is One News wrote. “They reclaimed the land and built the high-rises. So, expecting them to give up control is futile.”
The publication continued: “Beijing is not looking for a partnership in Sri Lanka. Instead, it wants an overseas province. … It began with the Hambantota Port and has now spilled into the port city of Colombo.
“Sri Lanka is on a highway to becoming a Chinese colony.”