Police on alert as China gets control of Hambantota Port

The Tamil Nadu police have been put on high alert after Sri Lanka passed the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill giving “complete control” of the Port City, coming up in the capital, to China, authorities said.

On May 20, Sri Lanka passed a controversial legislation governing the China-funded $1.4 billion Colombo Port City, being constructed on reclaimed land by Colombo’s sea front. While opposition and critics have raised concern that the law cedes much control to China, threatening the island nation’s sovereignty, the Rajapaksa administration has denied it, saying it strengthens prospects of foreign investment in the country. In 2017, Sri Lanka leased a Port in Hambantota district, some 250 km south of Colombo, to China for 99 years. 

Stating that passing of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill was a major diplomatic and strategic concern for India as China’s footprint would increase in the neighbouring countries, the sources said the move evoked instant protests from not only Opposition parties in Sri Lanka but other organisations like the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam. Acting on intelligence inputs, Director-General of Police J.K. Tripathy instructed senior police officers across Tamil Nadu to intensify vigil to thwart any attempt to stage protests in front of Sri Lankan or Chinese establishments in the State.

Referring to statements of a Tamil nationalist group leader that the silence of the international community on the issues in Sri Lanka had caused “great unrest and outrage among Tamils”, the police chief said there were possibilities that members of the pro-Tamil organisations or sympathisers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam may condemn the Sri Lankan government for approving the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill and attempt agitations targeting Sri Lankan and Chinese establishments.

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