According to Reuters, Sri Lanka has negotiated with China Merchants Port Holdings to “cut its stake in a strategic port project by up to a quarter,” after the island country saw violent protests in January and continuing unrest in February in response to Chinese investments. As part of its “One Belt, One Road” project to build trade routes across Asia, China has invested billions in southern Sri Lanka, specifically at the port of Hambantota and in a nearby 15,000-acre industrial zone.
China’s stake in the Hambantota port will remain a majority, according to Reuters sources, so it is reasonable to expect Sri Lankan opposition politicians to continue to characterize the plan as wanting “to give permanently the Hambantota Port” to China, as the ex-defense minister did today. The minister warned that Sri Lanka was “inviting trouble” with neighboring India with deals such as this. For more on Sri Lanka’s balancing act between India and China, read this piece (paywall) in the World Politics Review that contends, “A battle for influence is underway in Sri Lanka between China and India.”
Meanwhile, China continues to push its “One Belt, One Road” vision. Today, Xinhua reported (in Chinese) on Xi Jinping’s meetings with three foreign leaders — from Micronesia, Nepal, and Madagascar — all in one day, with one common topic of discussion: One Belt, One Road.
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