Sri Lanka protest over Chinese construction projects turns ugly — Government is finalising a 99-year lease of the port area to a company that is 80% Chinese-owned

BBC News

Protests on 5 January

Hundreds protested against the Chinese investment on Thursday. AP Photo

Several people have been injured in southern Sri Lanka during a protest against allowing China to build a port and industrial zone.

The plan envisages the eviction of thousands of villagers around Hambantota port, 240km (150 miles) south-east of the capital Colombo.

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Police used tear gas as the protest delayed a ceremony being attended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremesinghe.

Opponents say the area is being turned into what they call a Chinese colony.

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The government is finalising a 99-year lease of the port area to a company that is 80% Chinese-owned.

A nearby area will be used for an industrial zone where Chinese companies will be invited to set up factories.

The government says local people will be given new land.

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The port development is the latest in a series of major investments by China in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure.

China has pumped millions of dollars into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure since the end of a 26-year civil war in 2009.

China’s so-called string of pearls strategy – an attempt to expand its influence in South Asia – is controversial – and watched with particular suspicion by its regional rival, India, says the BBC’s Jill McGivering.

The investment is part of its bold ambition to engineer a “Maritime Silk Route” to oil-rich parts of the Middle East, and onwards to Europe, our South Asia analyst says.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38541673

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