Chinese and Sri Lankan authorities shake hands during the Hambantota International Port Concession Agreement signing ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 29, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
has signed a deal to operate a port in Sri Lanka’s southeast for nearly one century in return for 1.1 billion dollars.
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority signed the deal for operations at the Hambantota port with Chinese authorities on Saturday.
Sri Lanka agreed to sell 70 percent of the stakes in the port to China Merchants Ports Holdings.
The Chinese state-run firm will now gain control over the port operations of the newly-constructed port in a 99-year lease.
Public anger and protests had caused a delay in the signing of the deal.
Opponents had raised concerns about a loss of land and were worried that the port might be used by the Chinese military.
The port is located on a key international shipping lane between Europe and Asia
Closing the Sri Lanka deal put Beijing one step forward in the implementation of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” project.
This photo, dated February 10, 2015, shows the Hambantota port, in southeast Sri Lanka. (By AFP)
In May, Xi pledged tens of billions of dollars as part of the project.
It includes plans to build ports, highways, and power grids in about 60 different countries aimed at facilitating connections between China, Asia, Europe, and Africa.
The project has been opposed by rival India, which cites security concerns.
Nuclear-armed neighbors China and India, which share a 3,500-kilometer border, are at loggerheads over numerous issues, including over their common border.
Previous hostilities between the two resulted in a short but deadly frontier war in 1962, in which China emerged victorious.