Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has rejected US' claim that China might set up a "forward military base" at Hambantota Port, describing it as "imaginary", the Economic Times reported on Thursday.
Addressing a programme at London's Oxford University on Monday, Mr.Wickremesinghe said some people are seeing "imaginary Chinese Naval bases in Sri Lanka.
“The Hambantota Port is a commercial joint venture between our Ports Authority and China Merchants - a company listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. There are no foreign naval bases in Sri Lanka," he emphasised.
His comments came days after US Vice-President Mike Pence alleged China of using "debt diplomacy" to expand its global influence and said that Hambantota "may soon become a forward military base for China's growing blue-water navy"
Mr.Wickremesinghe said Lankan Navy's Southern Command was being relocated in the Hambantota port to control security and the US Defence Department has been briefed on these developments.
He said Sri Lanka was also concluding a commercial agreement that would see the Airport Authority of India (AAI) taking over the control of the Hambantota airport, which was built with high interest commercial loan from China.
The Prime Minister said, "In this atmosphere of suspicion, many countries fear that the South China Sea issues can spill over, leading to future militarisation and military competition in the Indian Ocean."
"This has resulted in a number of stakeholders intensifying their interest and presence in the Indian Ocean by expanding their fleets, upgrading their bases, securing access to foreign ports, and aggressive naval posturing via joint exercises, extended sorties, and live-fire drills.
"The Indian Ocean region requires a common understanding that will ensure peace and stability within the region.There is also a need to work towards building a regional framework for both trade and security – while ensuring that the region remains free, open and inclusive...The interests of the smaller states are best served by advocating for and upholding a rule-based order in the region," he said.
Ugh Friday, 12 October 2018 14:40
poor toyyas. They say one thing their leader say another thing.
Reply : 4 17
Rasika Friday, 12 October 2018 14:40
Give them Boosa Base USA will be Happy !!! you are the Wonderman !!! Mr.Bean....
Reply : 5 19
Love Sri Lanka Friday, 12 October 2018 14:42
Dear Hon. PM, we citizens in the know how are surprised that you seem to know nothing and live in a bubble made by you in a fools paradise. I voted for you thinking you are a brilliant administrator and a statesman. I guess there are no more of them left in this country. Its time you come done to earth Sir !!!
Reply : 2 25
Shelley Friday, 12 October 2018 15:09
I'm Still waiting to hear from Modawansa that Vice Prez of US is the sweetest guy in the world because he had belittled RANIL.
Reply : 1 15
Wise Donkey Friday, 12 October 2018 15:11
Ranil Mahathaya owa ganang ganda epa. The US has over 500 bases all over the world including in Germany, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea and they are talking about China having a base in Sri Lanka, Utter nonsense,
Reply : 12 14
Ceylon Friday, 12 October 2018 15:23
srilanka is now half chinese colony.
Reply : 6 28
Runway Friday, 12 October 2018 15:31
Why Mattala to India. Palaly should have been given to India to bring it up to international standard. The south will not be happy India taking over Mattala. In their brain they will ssy India will plant surveillance instruments under the Mattala runway to spy on SL !!!
Reply : 4 12
Jaffna Resident Friday, 12 October 2018 16:59
No,we do not want the dangerous Indians in Palaly either.
Reply : 7 12
kumaran Friday, 12 October 2018 17:26
He is a bigger liar than a fool. We KNOW that the U.S and China are heading for a conflict (I stop from using the word "war" as that can be nuclear) China may not have a military base in H'Tota now, but in the event of a war, they have only to send a squadron of their warships, such as destroyers and submarines and a couple of troop carriers to invade and take-over the Southern Province. The Sri Lanka navy and troops will, without a doubt combat this invasion but its just a matter of days if not hours. This will lead to the Yanks having to neutralize the area which they will do with no hesitation thus reducing this "wonderful" harbour and airport to smithereens. We can be sure that the pristine glory of H'Tota as we knew will be eventually restored after several decades. It is KNAVE to think and say that "the Chinese have no military base". The Brits had no base in Trinco when they invaded, nor the Portuguese and Dutch.
Reply : 4 18
Ghost Friday, 12 October 2018 17:58
A simple case of sour grapes- if Uncle Sam can't have it no one should!
Reply : 11 6
Dperera Friday, 12 October 2018 19:21
Firstly there is no American national interest on Sri Lanka. US vice president simply wanted to point out how Chinese influence around the world is changing. No one knows what Chinese long term plans are.Secondly USA is concern about the security in the Indian ocean, just as the neighboring India.
Reply : 5 13
Dhammika Saturday, 13 October 2018 20:49
Why GOTA and BASIL who are eying to become next president are both AMERICAN citizens .
Reply : 0 0
jayt Sunday, 14 October 2018 04:02
I do not want any military Base foreigner can use to kill and reduced Sinhalese majority , on other hand Indian showed their dishonesty By refusing take Back Tamil Brought By British. and from then ward Indian carried out their conspiracy which is historically Belong to Tamil Nadu.
Reply : 1 0
GH Saturday, 13 October 2018 23:30
Yeah, no base given, but sold it out right!
Reply : 0 2
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