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China 'not narrow minded' to oppose Indian investments in Lanka: Official

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: March 21, 2019  | 16:33 IST

By K J M Varma Beijing, Mar 21 (PTI) China on Thursday said it is "not narrow minded" to oppose the Indian investments in Sri Lanka, as it reacted guardedly to reports of USD 3.85 billion joint venture between India's Accord Group and Oman's oil ministry to build a refinery in the island nation. Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister of Development strategies and International Trade Nalin Bandara was quoted as saying by the local media that the Oman Oil Ministry and a Singapore investment vehicle owned by India's Accord Group have agreed to construct an oil refinery in the country, the biggest foreign direct investment in Lanka. China has acquired Hambantota port for 99-year lease as a debt swap. Asked for his reaction to the oil refinery in Lanka and whether China is concerned about the Indian investments there, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media here that Beijing has an "open attitude" regarding India's investments in the island nation. "I don't have relevant information as of now. But I want to say China and Sri Lanka have cooperation in many areas that yielded concrete outcomes. As far as the port (Hambantota) you mentioned, (it is) another example of our fruitful cooperation," Geng said. "We have an open attitude towards Indian investment in Sri Lanka. While we make our contribution to the development of Sri Lanka, China is not as narrow minded as you thought," he said. Chinese investments over the years in Sri Lanka amounted to over USD eight billion adding pressure to Colombo’s external debt burden. China's acquisition of Hambantota port as a debt swap has raised concerns about Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which US has cautioned as debt trap specially for smaller countries. The Belt and Road Initiative is a multi-billion-dollar initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea route. PTI KJV ZH ZH

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