China took over a port in Sri Lanka, so what?
Posted on July 2nd, 2018

Over the weekend, the prime minster of Sri Lanka announced that the country’s southern naval command will be moved to this port, now leased to China via a state-run firm. Signaling the reality of concerns about China’s desire to use the deep-water port for military purposes, the announcement reaffirmed that China would not be permitted to use the port for its own military purposes.

Sri Lanka China

Sri Lanka’s debt could pave the way for China to pressure the country to permit the very military use of land now held by China that it has repeatedly said that it would not.(Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Despite this reassurance, however, Sri Lanka’s debt could pave the way for China to pressure the country to permit the very military use of land now held by China that it has repeatedly said that it would not.

The tale of the port should be a cautionary one. While Trump seems focused on trade deals and tariffs, U.S. attention to smaller, developing countries is waning and China is picking up the slack. Already, China has financed or helped finance at least 35 ports around the world and has included up to 68 countries representing 65 percent of the world’s population in the One Belt, One Road” initiative.

The implications of China’s infrastructure investment are two-fold: not only does (1) China position itself to influence, through debt, the policy of foreign governments, but (2) China also gains control of strategic locations for military operations. While Beijing’s gains seem small so far, the overall ambitions evident in the scope of investment should be high on the list of U.S. concerns. If China takes over a few more ports and have some success in pressuring governments to allow military operations, China will soon pose more of a treat than just that of an economic rival.

6 Responses to “China took over a port in Sri Lanka, so what?”

  1. Dilrook Says:


    ‘Giving away’ the Hambantota port to China is the best thing any Sri Lankan government has done since 1972 to ensure territorial integrity of the nation. Ranil and his regime (despite their many failings) deserves credit for it. Indian and Western interferers have gone crazy over it which itself proves how good it is. Now their interference in Lanka will be in check. The dual use port can host the Chinese military as contractual terms don’t prohibit it. Port City has a similar agreement. In 2014 (during Mahinda’s term) two Chinese attack submarines docked in Port City – a very welcomed development. Trincomalee port must also have Chinese presence.

    What good have USA and India done to Sri Lanka? Very difficult to find any.

  2. aloy Says:


    “What good have USA and India done to Sri Lanka? Very difficult to find any”
    Why are you trying to hide the facts?. Our biggest economic partner right now is the US. What has the Chinese given us in exchange for massive loans?. Of course they gave us weapons to fight the terrorist and gave other supports as well. But they us headaches also. Norochchalai and Hambanthota itself are examples. They sold weapons to the LTTE as well. Another one is coming: the permanent change of demography of the south of our country when they occupy an area of 15x10km and bring in 1 million Chinese for industries. These guys in the government are enemies of the Sinhalas. They want to destroy the peaceful existence and make it another Syria or something.

  3. aloy Says:

    Sorry.Please correct my penultimate sentence as “These guys in the government work like enemies of Sinhalas, if not they should amend the agreement immediately.”

  4. Dilrook Says:


    I agree USA is our most important goods export destination.

    How long will this last? We saw how USA changed its free trade policy recently in regards to TPP (scrapped), NAFTA, China, the EU, Canada, etc. It is very risky to have USA as our largest export destination. That too slavery based industries, almost entirely garments. We have to move away from these. Only China can help us out of this.

    I agree with you that we should not needlessly bash USA which is self inflicted trouble. However, US interests are inherently inimical to Sri Lanka today. It is in US best interests to divide the island nation disproportionately (emphasised) for a military base. There is no escape from this fact.

    Chinese loans are not massive. Total Chinese loans are around $6 billion out of a total foreign debt of $76 billion. All Chinese loans are backed by assets. Sri Lanka is in a debt trap thanks to USA and India! They pushed weak Rajapaksas in 2011 to waste an enormous amount of money in the north and east without any returns for the government which has to repay these loans. In 2011 alone our official net borrowings were more than 1948 to November 2005 total net borrowings! Most of it went to the north and east. This is what landed us in a debt trap.

    China cannot change the demographic balance in the South. It is simply impossible and China is not interested in doing so.

    The ideal situation is Sri Lanka keeping out all these superpowers. However, given the very weak situation we are in and the mess we are in (debt trap, federalism, Tamil separatism, etc.) our options are limited. If we don’t play ball with China, they will simply allow USA and India to destroy the nation. Russia is no dependable friend of us either; it never was.

    It is true China’s NORINCO and POLY TECH sold weapons to the LTTE as well as to the army. LTTE purchased these with over $300 million collected annually in Canada, USA and EU countries. They did nothing to stop it.

    Chinese investments are highly opportunistic and they can’t care less about Sri Lanka or its environment. We must ensure our dealings with China are mutually beneficial. So far they have been. Norochcholai has been deliberately damaged by subversion and low quality coal purchased using corrupt means.

  5. Christie Says:

    “It is true China’s NORINCO and POLY TECH sold weapons to the LTTE as well as to the army”

    How true is this?

    One may be relying on” Defense Wire”, a blog post used by India to mislead the world during our war agaist the Indian terrorists LTTE.

    When it comes to supplying terrorists with weapons it is the terrorist sponsors who supply arms and most of them copies.

  6. Nimal Says:

    Why should China or any out sider by our national assets ? Are we that poor? Why did MR sell out Army HQ to put hotels? This not the business of politicians and they do that for crooked reasons. Why was our tax money being used for various absurd projects mainly financed by the Chinese.Definitly someone is making money and we will be in debt for ever. Why can’t the Chinese give their money to the private sector where there will be accountability to the shareholder?
    As members of the public we are the shareholders of the country’s assets misused by the politicians. This can’t go on and there should be a day of reckoning. Corruption is in built to the system where one can’t do anything by way of a business venture in the country without going through all the obstacles put by the utterly corrupt system.
    While people were dying due to the Tsunami,all CBK and her outfit did was to bring a law to prevent any one building anything closer than 1200 Meters from the coast. How did she come to that conclusion without any good reason but I think for a corrupt reason.
    My friend was a distributor for a Chinese made mobile phone that gave so much trouble and that poor guy had to have a back office technical staff to put the returned mobiles that was many while other brands had no such problems.
    I want China to do well but to exploit poor countries like this is wrong.
    I must say I had the previlage to meet their PM Chou en Lai in Kandy at the Queens’s house and Dong Shung Ping in London where I was given the task to set up his secured hot line from the Britannia hotel and from their embassy in Portland Place. He was a visionary, if he was living he would be rolling in his grave. China wants to fight corruption within and she must not get involved in infrastructure projects with corrupt politicians who take massive commissions which we have to pay.Why can’t China set up a bank in our countries and do commercial ventures and help these countries to fight corruption within?
    If we form a new government with honest people like the hard working business people who have proved their honest worth then China will lose every thing that was acquired and all loans given to bogus projects will not be honoured. This is the feeling in the African countries and it will come to pass.
    Today thousands of people lost their homes in a dam burst in Laoas,surly to poor construction standards.Hope China is not behind this construction.
    I know how difficult it is to get the job done in building a long lasting dam and I and my burgher friend was asked to supervise it with great difficulty with very poor work ethics of our people which drove my Danish engineer mad.I could write a book about this, tells much about our culture.
    I hope the new Chinese government who seem to fight corruption within will help the third world genuinely without bribing the politicians of the third world and they too get back their people investing in countries in Europe, thus helping the balance of payments in those countries economies.
    Their visionary leader Dung s.Peng thanked me for my efforts where he had a successful meeting with Mrs T.
    Their official treated me so well I must say and that job was done in time before his visit.He ushered China to the modern world and we swish we had leaders like them.
    See their dress code which is a suit and tie in like with the present world while our leaders play acting with the national ambude,visiting temples instead looking into the concerns of the suffering people.Hope the colonials will come back to put the countries right that was done in 1815 and likes of us will be the modern day Ehalapolas who are sadly my in laws Too busy to correct any grammar as the SM had just started.

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