Sri Lanka approved a $1.1 billion (approximately Rs 6,500 crore) deal with China on Saturday to handle the commercial operations of its southern deep-sea port of Hambantota. The deal, between Sri Lanka Ports Authority and China Merchants Port Holdings, was signed about six months ago for a 99-year lease, despite security concerns and the Sri Lankan Opposition’s demand to debate it in Parliament, Reuters reported.

Although there were concerns that China could use the port for military purposes, the Sri Lankan government has said that this sale of 70% stake will help it repay the money it owes China. “We thank China for arranging this investor to save us from the debt trap,” Port Minister Mahinda Samaraasinghe was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The port facilities, which belong to the citizens of Sri Lanka, will play a major role in China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, Executive Vice President of the ChinaMerchants Port, Hu Jianhua, said. The One Belt, One Road initiative aims to create the world’s largest platform for economic, social and cultural cooperation through a network of road and sea links and infrastructure projects connecting China with South and Central Asia, West Asia and Europe.