Why does Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port matter to India?
Simple: the Sri Lankan government has just handed over a 70 per cent stake in the port to a Chinese company, China China Merchants Ports Holding Authority, for 99 years. Which means that, besides in Pakistan, China will now have a base in another neighbouring country of India’s, namely, Sri Lanka.
As the video above Sri Lankan media house Roar Reports explains, Sri Lanka has a debt of $64 billion, of which it owes China about $8 billion. This is money that China had lent so that Sri Lanka could improve its infrastructure.
Now, the country is doing a deal, which also includes 12,350 acres of land, over Hambantota port for $1.1 billion. Some of that money will go towards repaying the debt.
But India is worried that this could provide the Chinese navy an opportunity to set up a base nearby. However, the Sri Lankan government has averred that there will be no military set-up. For China, the port is apparently part of the controversial One Belt One Road initiative.
Analyst Harsh V Pant explains China’s strategy thus: “Sri Lanka’s case is a textbook example of the Chinese modus operandi in pursuing its strategic interests...Using its own brand of ‘debt trap diplomacy’, China is now forcing smaller states to abide by its dictates.”