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Ambassador denies Sri Lanka was forced to accept Chinese loans

Sri Lanka's ambassador to China, Karunasena Kodituwakku on Wednesday denied reports that the country was forced to accept loans from China.

"What I want to highlight here is that Sri Lanka asked for this project loan on our own. We were not forced to get this loan," Mr Kodituwakku said in an interview to the Global Times in Beijing. "In the case of Chinese finance for Hambantota, that came to Sri Lanka at the request of Sri Lanka."

"It is very unfair to blame China or [the Export-Import Bank of China] or the firms that constructed the Hambantota port," he said, referring to Hambantota ports many failings. "It is a decision taken by the government of Sri Lanka… if something was wrong in the decision, we are responsible."

"We need more and more shipments and investment in the port and at the same time we would like to build a good industrial base in the surrounding area," he added. 

"Therefore, we would like to ask the Chinese business community to come to Sri Lanka and to invest in surrounding areas to build an industrial base."

Last month Sri Lanka's prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe rejected a report published by the New York Times which claimed China had pressurised the government to handover Hambantota port in order to rectify mounting debts. 

“I must say that the Chinese government never pressurised Sri Lanka on this matter," Mr Wickremesinghe told MPs during a special statement in parliament. 

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