Chinese port with few ships stokes fears in Indian Ocean
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SRI LANKA: Each year roughly 60,000 ships vital to the global economy sail through the Indian Ocean past a Chinese-operated port on the southern tip of Sri Lanka. Almost none of them stop to unload cargo.
The eight-year-old Hambantota port — with almost no container traffic and trampled fences that elephants traverse with ease — has become a prime example of what can go wrong for countries involved in President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” trade and infrastructure initiative. Sri Lanka borrowed heavily to build the port, couldn’t repay the loans, and then gave China a 99-year lease for debt relief.
The experience has fueled fears that Xi’s plans to finance more than US$500 billion in projects could see China take control of strategic infrastructure that also has military uses. But the massive state-owned Chinese conglomerate that took over the port in December wants to prove the skeptics wrong….