Sri Lanka, under debt from China, has exited India and Japan from the much-awaited East Container Terminal (ECT) project at Colombo Port. It is being told that the Sri Lankan government has taken this decision after strong opposition from trade unions across the country. In 2019, Sri Lanka signed an agreement with India and Japan to build a container terminal at Colombo Port. This project from India was seen as cutting off China’s presence at Hambantota Port.
The office of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Tuesday that he had signed an agreement with India and Japan to develop a major port terminal after opposition from trade unions and opposition parties. Has decided to cancel. Rajapaksa, who is said to be a staunch supporter of China, told after the cabinet meeting that now the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will operate the East Container Terminal on its own.
At the same time, it has been decided in this meeting that now the West Terminal will be developed as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with India and Japan. India, Sri Lanka and Japan entered into an agreement to develop the East Container Terminal. It said that India and Japan accounted for 49 per cent of the terminal operations and the remaining 51 per cent was held by the Ports Authority of Sri Lanka. There was a lot of protest in Sri Lanka.
India said – Sri Lanka follow the agreement
India on Tuesday asked Sri Lanka to abide by the agreement on the operation of Colombo Port’s Eastern Container Terminal. A spokesman for the Indian Embassy in Colombo said in an e-mail statement on Tuesday that the Sri Lankan cabinet had decided to implement the project with foreign investors three months ago. The Sri Lankan government has also repeatedly talked about complying with the agreement. The spokesman said that all parties should abide by the agreement.
Sri Lanka took the decision under pressure from China?
Actually, China wants to establish its unilateral domination in South Asia. China has been eyeing Sri Lanka for a long time. It has also invested heavily in Sri Lanka. China had also annexed Hambantota Port from Sri Lanka in 2016 on non-payment of debt. All the trade unions opposing the government are supporters of the ruling Sri Lankan People’s Party, forcing the Sri Lankan government to cancel the dill. It is being told that China had pressured Sri Lanka heavily to pull out of the project in New Delhi and Tokyo.
India wants Sri Lanka to do its best to reduce the influence of China. Sri Lanka is also strategically important for India. Most of the goods movement in India via sea is through Sri Lanka. Many big Sri Lankan leaders have also been in contact with the Chinese government. China considers Sri Lanka an important link to establish dominance in the Indian Ocean. For this, China has loaned millions of dollars to Sri Lanka in the last 10 years for infrastructure development, highway construction, airport construction and seaport construction in Sri Lankan-owned maritime and land areas.