Not far behind the Kra Canal in terms of controversy comes the proposed Hambantota port project in Sri Lanka. The new Sirisena government put a halt to the Chinese backed investment, partly to check the deal was a good one for Sri Lanka and but also it was rumoured because India didn’t want a major Chinese development on its doorstep. Now the Colombo government has given the green light to the project, pushed into it thanks to a lack of other investors and unhealthy looking government finances. The proposed project will create a USD 1.7 billion port and international airport, plus supposedly a new special economic/export processing zone. In principle all this will allow Sri Lanka greater access to export markets plus a cut of the docking fees paid by visiting ships, especially given the port is so close to major shipping lanes. But some fear (especially in New Delhi ) that the port is cover for Beijing to develop a naval base in the heart of the Indian Ocean, something the Chinese strenuously deny.

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