Colombo: China has withheld the Hambantota Port deal’s final tranche of $585 million to Sri Lanka due to Colombo’s objection over its plan to use a man-made island for entertainment purposes, a media report said. In December last year, Sri Lanka handed over the control of the sea port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease for $1.12 billion, amid concern over Beijing’s efforts to expand influence in the region. Opposition leaders have dubbed the deal as a sell out to China.
Reports said that the last tranche of $585 million has been held back by China’s state-owned China Merchants Port Holdings which want the land to be used for entertainment purpose. However, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority insists that the facilities at Hambantota should only be used for marine and port-related activities and not for entertainment tourism purposes, the report said.
It quoted the Chinese firm as saying that the money would only be transferred after the issue is resolved. The port was a Chinese-assisted infrastructure project in the home district of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.