Chinese Port City Bill
22/05/2021

Tags:

Context:

  • With incorporation of amendments suggested by the Sri Lankan Supreme Court to make it consistent with the constitution, its Parliament has passed the bill on laws governing the China-backed Colombo Port city.

About:

  • The $1.4 billion-Colombo Port City was launched in 2014 during the previous term of the Rajapaksa government.
  • The government defended the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill, pointing to potential foreign direct investments, up to $15 billion and prospects for job creation.

Criticism of Government’s Move:

  • The provisions of Bill infringed upon the country’s sovereignty, gave the governing commission overarching powers, and immunity from Sri Lankan law, and threatened to create a “Chinese enclave”.
  • The opposition asked the government if its stated policy of striving for ‘One Country, One Law’ meant “Chinese law”.
  • The “China-centric” Sri Lankan government is again challenging the geo-political order in the region and may have to pay a heavy price with such choices.
  • Some critics are accusing the government of giving away part of its land to China.

Geo-Political ramifications

  • Indian Ocean is the natural arena of India's influence with overriding security consequences on India and neighbouring small Island Nations in the region.
  • It is considered as part of Chinese Debt-trap Diplomacy to colonise the small nations. E.g. Earlier, Sri Lanka was forced to give its Hambantota port to China for a 99 years lease.
  • Over 70% of the transshipment business at the Sri Lanka's East Container Terminal (ECT) is linked to India. The ECT is located more 3 km away from the Colombo port city.
  • This can have serious ramifications towards India's efforts to build a safe, secure, and stable Indian Ocean region through efforts like SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region, launched in 2015).

China Encircling India

  • Recently, China has completed a key highway in Tibet, cutting through the YarlungZangbo Grand Canyon; touted as world's deepest canyon on River Brahmaputra.
  • It is close to Arunachal Pradesh Border and serves the strategic interests of China to encircle India from all parts through infrastructure along LAC and other initiatives like Indian Ocean Region through Sri Lanka, Western Border through China Pakistan Economic Corridor etc.\
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