Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister announced that its southern navy base will be shifted to a port in Hambantota that has been entirely built and controlled by the Chinese.
Ranil Wickremesinghe issued a statement on Saturday, as he sought to alleviate fears that the Hambantota port would be used by China’s military.
The Hambantota port, built at a cost of a reported $1.5 billion, is currently under a 99-year lease to China Merchants Port Holdings after the Sri Lankan government struggled to make payments on the loan taken out for the project.
“Sri Lanka also informed the Chinese that Hambantota cannot be used for military purposes,” said a statement from Mr Wickremesinghe. “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 Sri Lanka Navy.”
The Sri Lankan navy’s southern command is currently stationed at Galle.
The statement from Mr Wickremesinghe went on to say,
Once an American has asked him, “what would you do if the Chinese troops land in Hambantota”. The Prime Minister has responded saying that there is a full army division stationed at Hambantota. The Prime Minister never mentioned that we will not be resisting any invasion.
Further, no Navy in the region has the capacity to land an army division in Sri Lanka.