Sri Lanka will sign a $1.1 billion deal on Saturday to lease the southern Hambantota port to China on Saturday, reports the New York Times.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe confirmed that the deal would be signed this weekend, speaking at a press conference on Friday.
“We will sign the Hambantota agreement tomorrow. We are giving the country a better deal without any implications on security,” said Mr Wickremesinghe.
Mr Wickremesinghe’s confirmation comes amid several local protests and opposition from politicians arguing the move would be a threat to national security.
According to Co-Cabinet spokesperson, Rajitha Senaratne, President Maithripala Sirisena told his cabinet that “Not an inch of Sri Lanka would be given to another country.”
With nearly all government revenue currently going to debt servicing, the move to lease the port is part of Sri Lanka’s strategy to pay down some of its debt, estimated to be approximately $65bn (USD), including $8bn (SD) to China.