Sri Lanka’s government has signed a long-delayed agreement to sell a 70-percent stake in a $1.5 billion port to China in a bid to recover from the heavy burden of repayment of loans obtained to build the port. The agreement was signed between the government-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority and the state-run China Merchants Port Holding Co. in the capital Colombo on Saturday.
The Cabinet approved the agreement Tuesday after a nearly six-month delay since the framework deal was signed and immediately drew public criticism and protests. The port has suffered heavy losses since it began operations in 2011. It is seen as part of Beijing’s so-called “string-of-pearls plan” for a line of ports stretching from its waters to the Persian Gulf.