Sri Lanka is not renegotiating Hambantota port lease deal with China: report

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to China Palitha Kohona has dismissed suggestions that the country is planning to extend a 99-year lease it granted to Beijing to run Hambantota port.

Palitha Kohona said in an interview with the South China Morning Post that his country would “never be an unsinkable aircraft carrier posing a threat to anyone else”, referring to China’s ongoing power struggles with the United States and India.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena earlier said the 99-year lease of the Hambantota port to China could be extended to 198 years, calling it a “mistake” made by the previous government, after reports that Colombo was revisiting the agreement.

The port deal signed in 2017 by the previous government to cover its debts to China – has been the subject of intense international scrutiny amid accusations Beijing is using “debt trap diplomacy” for geopolitics.