Amid Concerns Over China’s Growing Influence, Sri Lanka Announces Relocation Of Naval Unit To HambantotaShips docked at the Hambantota Port (Deneth17/Wikimedia Commons)

The Sri Lankan Navy will move the headquarters of its Southern Command from Galle to the China-owned Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port in Hambantota, reports AFP. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe said that the port, although owned by a Chinese firm could not be used for any military purposes (by China).

In December, Sri Lanka had handed over control of Hambantota to the China Merchant Ports Holding Company on a 99-year lease for $1.12 billion.

The Sri Lanka navy is moving its Southern Command to Hambantota. There is no need to be frightened as security of the port will be under the control of the Sri Lanka Navy.
Ranil Wickremsinghe

China had earlier withheld the final installment of $585 million over the island nation’s objections to the former using a man-made island in the vicinity for entertainment purposes. An industrial park, being built with the Sri Lanka Port Authority is to come up at Hambantota as well.

Sri Lanka has however told China that the port could not be used for military purposes. India raised concerns in 2014 when a Chinese submarine had docked at Colombo.

Hambantota Port is among the various infrastructure projects funded and built by the Chinese during former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure before he was defeated by Maithripala Sirisena.

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