Written by Bella Dalima
19 Nov, 2014 | 9:52 pm
Foreign media reports indicate that plans are afoot to establish a Chinese naval base in the Hambantota Port. The Namibian newspaper, citing Chinese media reports, states that naval bases are to be established in 18 strategic ports around Asia and Africa, including in Sri Lanka.
The Namibian newspaper also reported that the Walvis Bay in Namibia is among the 18 strategic locations where Chinese naval bases are to be established.
Lieutenant Colonel Monica Sheya, Spokesperson for the Namibian Ministry of Defence, had confirmed that the authorities were aware of the plans and that high level discussions are underway regarding the matter.
The Namibian newspaper reported that the purpose of these naval bases would be the replenishment, berthing and refueling of Chinese ships.
The matter was also brought to the attention of Parliament today.
UNP Parliamentarian, Dr. Harsha de Silva expressed these views;
[quote]I wish to table this article from The Namibian newspaper today. This reports that a Chinese naval base is to be established at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Magam Ruhunupura Port. It has been reported in many newspapers today. When the Chinese President Xi Jinping was in Sri Lanka, the Chairman of the Ports Authority signed an agreement with him. I wish to table this document as well. What does it say? It provides four berths in phase 2 of the Hambantota Port to a Chinese company. No one is aware of all this. The report says that it was signed on Tuesday and that discussions went on till Monday and therefore, even the Cabinet was not informed of this. When he was questioned, he said that they had agreed to provide concessions on the loans that were obtained if they are given four of the seven berths. When you look at all of these stories collectively, where are we headed?[/quote]
When News 1st made inquiries, the Director of the Media Centre of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya, refuted claims that plans were afoot to establish a Chinese naval base in Hambantota.
He said that a Chinese naval base could not be established in secret, adding that anyone could see for themselves whether such construction is underway at the Hambantota port.
Nevertheless, China, a major global trade centre, has embarked on an ambitious project to extend its trade reach across the globe, through land and sea silk roads.
China announced last week that it would allocate a sum of 32 billion Euros for a Silk Road Fund, to invest in infrastructure, industry and finance co-operation, to break the connectivity bottleneck in Asia.
China which is also involved in several large scale infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka, is undertaking the construction of the Hambantota Port at a cost of 1,169 million dollars.
While China is also engaged in the Colombo Port City project, where a large swathe of land is being reclaimed from the sea, Chinese President Xi Jinping laid the foundation stone for the project, when he visited Sri Lanka recently.
The arrival of Chinese submarines in Sri Lanka in this time-frame, was also a major topic of discussion.
Monitoring MP, Ministry of External Affairs, Sajin de Vass Gunawardena expressed the following views on November 14, 2014:
[quote]Vessels from any country can come to a Sri Lankan port today, obtain services there and leave. A Chinese Submarine came here back then and the day before yesterday a Korean Navy ship was here. Ships from India too come here. We have always had these dealings with India[/quote]
UNP Deputy Leader, MP Sajith Premadasa shared these views:
[quote]The children of our country have been pawned. Loans have been taken at incendiary ppinterest rates. They built a port where ships do not come. They made it a port which does not generate employment and then they hand over that port to the Chinese military for them to establish a military base. I wish to ask the current government if this is their patriotism. They went from stage to stage ranting about how the motherland should be protected from foreign interference. Now they have handed the port over to China to establish a military base. I challenge the government to prove that what I am saying is false.[/quote]
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