Foreign Policy

HAMBANTOTA, August 15, 2010 (AFP) – A China-funded port in Sri Lanka will be a symbol of Colombo’s non-partisan foreign policy, the president said Sunday amid Indian concerns over Beijing’s interests in the region. President Mahinda Rajapakse marked a key milestone in the construction of the 1.5 billion-dollar port in the southern Sri Lankan town of Hambantota with a message of goodwill to all nations.

“This port will symbolise our non-alignment and friendship with all,” the president said at a ceremony to mark the completion of the first phase of the deep-sea port.

“The step forward we take today as a nation will be one that will see international economic cooperation built through mutual trust, respect and friendship.”

Sri Lanka is part of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement, a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc.

Its neighbour and biggest trading partner, India, is believed to be concerned that Hambantota is part of a Chinese policy to throw a “string of pearls” geographical circle of influence around India.

China is also developing port facilities in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan, and has plans for rail projects in