Report that Hambantota port deal has second 99-year lease extension runs counter to facts: China

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China on Wednesday stated a report quoting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena that the controversial deal to take over the Hambantota port on a 99-year lease has a provision for its extension for a similar variety of years “runs counter to the facts”.

Gunawardena has revealed that the earlier Maithripala Sirisena authorities had awarded the Hambantota port to China not just for a 99-year lease but in addition offered a provision for extension for one more 99-years.

“There is a provision for a further 99-year extension of the lease,” he was quoted by the Sri Lankan newspaper Ceylon Today on February 20 as saying.

“As we are implementing our policies giving much attention to all countries, the previous government made a mistake on the Hambantota port deal when they cancelled the lease and gave it on a longer period of 99 years plus another 99 years once the first term ends,” Gunawardena stated.

When requested whether or not the clause is talked about within the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Gunawardena stated, “Yes. It says the 99-year lease can extend for a further period. Which means it can go on for any number of years after 99 years or for another 99 years.”

The similar every day reported on February 6 that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was revisiting the Hambantota port deal and that after many discussions just lately with the Chinese officers, has relocated a Sri Lanka Naval base from the Chinese-controlled space of the port.

Asked for his response to the report concerning the second 99-year lease clause and Rajapaksa reviewing the deal, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin stated Hambantota port is a landmark mission collectively undertaken by China and Sri Lanka beneath the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

To a selected query on whether or not China is opposed to re-negotiate the deal by the Sri Lankan authorities, Wang stated “the relevant report runs counter to facts”.

“The concession agreement relating to the Hambantota Port is a mutually beneficial one signed by China and Sri Lanka in an equal-footed and voluntary spirit through friendly consultations,” he stated, including that the “cooperation project will help Sri Lanka to build a new engine driving future economic growth”.

“We believe this project will play an active role in facilitating Sri Lanka’s economic growth and improving people’s lives,” he instructed a media briefing.

The Ceylon Today every day in its February 6 report quoted the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), General Daya Ratnayake, as saying that President Rajapaksa, after many discussions with the Chinese officers, has relocated a Sri Lanka Naval base from the Chinese-controlled space on the Hambantota port.

“The Navy Base, according to the agreement, was on the Chinese leased land. The President spoke to the Chinese and took the base to the Sri Lankan side,” Ratnayake stated.

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