President Maithripala Sirisena has insisted that China’s Belt and Road economic initiative should not be a threat to the international community.
Maithripala Sirisena expressed the idea in an interview with NHK ahead of his visit to Japan on Monday. President and other leaders of his governent criticised the Chinese intervention in Lankan economy when they challenged Rajapaksha regime in 2015 elections. However Maithripala and his government later allowed China to use its southern Hambantota Port for 99 years in return for Beijing’s waiving of more than a billion dollars of Sri Lankan debt. The port will be the largest in South Asia, and is expected to play a key role in the One Belt, One Road plan.
President Sirisena during his TV interview said that China should make it clear that it will not pose any threat to other countries. He also said that Beijing rulers could use the port for military purposes. But he said doing so would violate the bilateral agreement and promised that his government will never allow that to happen. However, President expressed enthusiasm for Japan’s plans to build infrastructure in his Lanka and said he expects Japan to play an important role in the region. Japan is developing infrastructure in Sri Lanka under its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.”