No private land will be taken without owners’ consent
(February 17, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) “Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Yi Xianling expressed his concerns that the protests in Hambantota may turn away the investors who have already agreed to invest in the proposed industrial zone down south,” local media reported.
The Ambassador, highlighting the importance of the industrial zone to support the operations of the Hambantota Port, assured that no private land would be taken without permission of the owners for the purpose.
Xianling made these remarks delivering the 13th Sujatha Jayawardena Memorial Oration organised by the Colombo University Alumni Association held at BMICH on the topic “One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative”.
“I already persuaded 10 CEOs of big companies to invest USD 3-5 billion in the next two to three years. Most of them belong to the 500 Fortune companies. However, if protests continue how can I persuade them? When they approach me I asked them to get the answers from the Sri Lankan leaders, not from me. However, I encourage them to invest here and I am confident that the corporation between Sri Lanka and China will be a success in the future” he said. The Chinese ambassador largely digressing from his prepared speech took pains to allay the doubts on the Hambantota port project and explain that China is not interested in meddling with internal politics in the country. “When I addressed more than 2,000 locals in Hambantota during a Chinese cultural performance at the International Convention Centre I promised to them that we will not take their lands without their own permission. I talked to the District Secretary and explained that we would just use the BOI lands and lands already available at the port for the first phase of the project,” he said. “The port belongs to Sri Lanka. The Chinese investment of USD 1.1 billion is to operate 80 percent of it. No contract or agreement is made yet. Only the framework agreement has been signed. Whatever the share we get, we will fully respect the Government procedure and consensus of the people. We have no intention to intervene in the internal differences between politicians or political groups or former, current and future leaders,” he stated.
Elaborating on the importance of industrial zone, he observed many developed countries such as Singapore, Japan and the US and achieved fast development through special zones.
“This is also the way to protect your land and environment. Otherwise, you cannot have industries anywhere” he pointed out.
The Ambassador said the advice of the Chinese President to him during the delay of Colombo port city project was to be “patient” and work cordially with the Sri Lankan Government and its people. “I have time and I have patience, but I am worried about the patience of the business community,” he said.
“China and Sri Lanka have no disputes and differences generally. Of course, I have some differences with some Ministers, but this is not a difference between the two states. China is already the number one financial supporter to Sri Lanka. Last year our grants, donations and commercial and concessionary loans to Sri Lanka amount to RMB 10 billion,” he added.