Thursday, 12 January 2017 09:07

Chinese Ambassador to Lanka also has concerns about H’tota project, says Mahinda

China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yi Xianliang, had expressed concerns about the implementation of the Hambantota industrial park project, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa claimed, following a meeting with the envoy on Tuesday.

The former president, who participated in a Twitter Q&A yesterday, denied reports that the Chinese envoy to Colombo had expressed his displeasure over certain remarks being made about Chinese involvement in Sri Lanka by the pro-Rajapaksa faction.

“No. The Ambassador also had concerns about the way the project is now being implemented,” Rajapaksa replied in response to a question raised by a journalist during the Q&A that was hashtagged #AskMR.

The discussions with the Chinese Ambassador had been “very cordial”, Rajapaksa added.

He also praised Beijing for always being a friend to Sri Lanka. “China always stood by us even when the West-led coalition brought resolution after resolutions against Sri Lanka,” the former president claimed.

Rajapaksa insisted that he was not against obtaining Chinese support for development work, as long as the Sri Lankan people’s interests were protected. “My request is to implement the project according to the initial agreement without displacing people and harming the people,” he added.

The former President also claimed – causing some hilarity to ensue on the social media network – that every negotiation with China during his administration had “followed the due process and it’s well documented.”

The pro-Rajapaksa Joint Opposition is strongly opposing the Hambantota port lease and industrial park project, which was originally initiated during President Rajapaksa’s tenure. But Rajapaksa claims that in the latest agreement signed by the current Government, the project has been expanded which he said prompted further review of environmental concerns.

The Joint Opposition has led protests against the joint venture project, and the former president recently claimed that soon he would require a Chinese visa to enter Kataragama in the Southern Province.

During #AskMR, the former president also vowed to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of the Yahapalanaya Government based on existing Sri Lankan law. Rajapaksa claimed that the FCID was an illegal entity that was engaging in political witch-hunts. (Daily FT)

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