Xinhua contributed to this story. Reproduced from China Daily USA 2017-01-11
Ambassador says work to proceed in key industrial zone in Hambantota. And, Sri Lanka’s envoy in Beijing said his government is “extremely positive” toward Chinese investment and will not stop the development of an industrial zone in the southern coastal city of Hambantota because of protesters.
Yi Xianliang, the Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka and Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Shaked hands at the groundbreaking ceremony of China-Sri Lanka Industrial Park
The zone, a key development project in Hambantota, is set to take up 50 square kilometers and is expected to develop businesses including logistics, marine services and marine product processing.
“Only a few hundred politically motivated participants” were at the protest on Saturday (2017-01-07), said Karunasena Kodituwakku, the Sri Lankan ambassador to China.
Although Reuters quoted protesters as saying the Sri Lankan government was trying to evict families to provide land for the industrial zone, Kodituwakku said that the government “will utilize only government land in Hambantota and adjoining districts for investment projects”.
Yi Xianliang, the Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka, said the zone is expected to help create 100,000 jobs.
The ambassador said in November that the zone is an important project for bilateral trade cooperation and is likely to attract investment worth $5 billion in the next three to five years if the Sri Lankan government expedites preferential policies.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Monday (2017-01-09) that Chinese investment in southern Sri Lanka is crucial for the country’s development, and said Sri Lanka is thankful to Chinese leaders for agreeing to invest in the Hambantota area.
The Sri Lankan government has wanted to develop the area, which was severely damaged by a tsunami in 2004, to help promote development on the Indian Ocean island nation following a civil war that ended in 2009 after more than two decades.
Besides the industrial zone, Chinese investors have established a strong presence in Hambantota by building a deep-sea port and an airport.
A Chinese company in 2008 started the construction of the seaport, which is expected to help the region become an international shipping hub.
Kodituwakku confirmed that a Chinese company has requested 80 percent of the seaport’s stake in a 99-year lease, and said the final decision will be made soon.
He said the Sri Lankan government decided, with the concurrence of the Chinese government, to invite Chinese shipping companies to lease and run the port in a private-public partnership.
“We are aware of the policy of China ‘going global’, therefore Chinese policy and our policy regarding foreign investment have become complementary,” said Kodituwakku.
China, the largest investment source for Sri Lanka, has also invested in building an international financial city in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. And it is a good opportunity for Chinese enterprises to enter the Sri Lanka market. The new edition of China Products (Colombo, Sri Lanka) Exhibition will be held on November 22-24, 2017, to build a trade platform between China and Sri Lanka for you.