Southern Sri Lanka: clashes and wounded in protests against a Chinese port

Colombo is finalizing an agreement with Beijing for the concession of a coastal area for a period of 99 years. The project will force the eviction of the local population. The investment plan is part of the Chinese strategy of "One Belt, One road".


Colombo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Several people were injured in southern Sri Lanka during a clash with police while protesting against the construction of a Chinese port and the adjacent industrial port. The project will force the eviction thousands of local inhabitants, although the Sri Lankan government promised that it will give them new lands.

The population was denouncing the fact that the area will become a de facto Chinese colony, the police arrested around 41 people for public property damage. Those arrested have already appeared before the judge and have been placed under preventive detention.

The protests took place in the Hambantota, 240 kilometers south of the capital, where the Colombo authorities are carrying out a concession agreement of the port area for a period of 99 years. The partner company is 80% owned by Chinese.

The investment is just the latest in a series of infrastructure projects that Beijing is building to carry out its strategy of "One Belt, One Road", a belt of ports and highways throughout South and Central Asia that will ferry Chinese goods to the heart of Europe.

The seizure of local land brought the population out onto the streets. The officers fired tear gas at the demonstrators,  who were trying to interrupt a public ceremony that was to be led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremesinghe.