Sri Lanka opens airport highway funded and built by Chinese firms

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 October, 2013, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 October, 2013, 12:00pm

Sri Lanka opened a US$292 million Chinese-funded airport highway on Sunday, amid Indian concern about Chinese influence as the island nation rebuilds after a nearly three-decade war.

The country has invested heavily in infrastructure since the war ended in 2009 with defeat for separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

The new 25.6 kilometre airport highway was built with a loan of US$248.2 million from Exim Bank of China, with China Metallurgical as the contractor.

China provided weapons to Sri Lanka in the final phase of the civil war, and President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government has awarded more than US$4 billion worth of infrastructure projects to China, mainly with Chinese loans.

The Sri Lankan president, responding to Indian concerns over Chinese commercial deals, has said the relationship with China is more commercial than political in nature.

Sri Lanka has planned over US$6 billion worth of projects, including airports and sea ports, highways, coal and hydro power plants and railways, mainly to be funded by Chinese loans.