Sri Lanka yesterday announced it is entering into partnership with India and Japan to develop a deep-sea container terminal next to a controversial $500-million Chinese-run container jetty in Colombo harbour.
The state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) had been signed between the three countries to develop what is known as the East Terminal of the Colombo port.
The SLPA said it will retain 51 percent of the company that will run the terminal while the rest will be owned by India and Japan. It gave no further details of the costs of the project.
China owns 85 percent of the adjoining terminal known as the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) which was commissioned in 2013. The SLPA owns the remaining 15 percent of the company.
In December 2017, Sri Lanka, unable to repay a huge Chinese loan, handed over another deep sea port in Hambantota, which straddles the world’s busiest east-west shipping route, on a 99-year lease to a Chinese state company in a deal that raised concerns at home and abroad.
India and US are both concerned that a Chinese foothold at Hambantota, 240 kilometres (150 miles) south of Colombo, could give it a military naval advantage in the Indian Ocean.