SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday inaugurated a $1.4 billion port city being built in Sri Lanka with loans from Chinese banks, underlining his country’s growing role in the region ahead of a state visit to India.
The Colombo Port City rising from an artificial island near Sri Lanka’s capital is designed to become a key link in a maritime route China hopes will boost trade with Europe. Xi and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa cut a ribbon to officially launch the project during a ground-breaking ceremony. Aside from offering a base to international shippers, the port city is expected to ease traffic and congestion in Colombo’s busy business district.
Rajapaksa had dubbed the port city Sri Lanka’s single largest development project ever, and said it could attract some $5 billion in investments once completed. China has also funded an international airport, expressways, power plants and conference centers in Sri Lanka.
Xi kicked off his South Asia tour with a visit Monday to the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Maldives, securing an airport expansion deal there. The project was previously given to India but Maldives withdrew from that agreement in 2012. Both Sri Lanka and Maldives are traditional allies of India and their tilt toward China has made India uneasy.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was preparing to receive Xi for a banquet in the evening in his home state of Gujarat. The feast coincides with Modi’s 64th birthday. The choice of Gujarat as Xi’s first stop in India, rather than the capital New Delhi, marked a departure from protocol that some saw as a sign of warming relations between China and India. Xi, who will travel to New Dehli on Thursday, is expected to hold talks with Modi focusing on trade, infrastructure and territorial disputes.
Source: ABC News