Colombo – Sri Lanka is increasingly becoming a “colony of China,” this according to many Sri Lankans who spoke to AsiaNews. The country is a victim of Beijing’s economic expansion plans, especially the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota airport.
“We are not against development,” people say, “but we do not want our country to become the colony of another. There are so many development projects done without listening to people’s voices.”
People complain that “the previous government and the current one are doing the same thing. Through these projects, the poor will become even poorer and the wealthy wealthier. The [nation’s] environment and sovereignty will vanish.”
Hemantha Vithanage, a well-known environmentalist, shares that view. He believes that Chinese investments in the island nation “are not very transparent and participatory. They involve modern forms of colonisation of the nation with Chinese characteristics.”
According to the activist, who heads the NGO Forum on ADB (Asian Development Bank) that monitors the activities of the new Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), “Sri Lanka is a heavily indebted country that has no bargaining power. It became so weak with the Colombo Port City Project that it has lost sovereignty. The Hambantota plan also raises serious issues about the government’s ability to control domestic assets and resources.”
Sri Lanka is a key country in China’s plans, especially since the launch of its ‘One belt, one road’ strategy, which includes a system of ports and roads to bring Chinese goods to the heart of Europe.
“Most Chinese development plans are somehow linked to this plan. Sri Lanka is strategic because all the maritime routes pass by the island.”
As for the AIIB, China owns 51 per cent and India another 26 per cent. Ostensibly, its official purpose is to “invest in infrastructure projects at market rates in energy, communications and transport.”
“The bank claims that it will not support coal-fired power plants, but will instead promote the Paris accord and renewable energies.”
Still, “in my opinion it is a new development bank with a vision that [supports] another neoliberal entity to make China shine in the market economy the and the capitalist world.” (AsiaNews) Melani Manel Perera