Sri Lanka’s president has warned that China’s Belt and Road economic initiative should not be allowed to pose a threat to the international community.
Maithripala Sirisena made the remark in an interview with NHK ahead of his visit to Japan on Monday. He will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his stay.
Sirisena won the 2015 presidential election by defeating pro-China incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa. Sirisena pledged to uphold a well-balanced foreign policy.
Under the Rajapaksa administration, Sri Lanka’s government allowed China to use its southern Hambantota Port for 99 years in return for Beijing’s waiving of more than a billion dollars of Sri Lankan debt.
The port will be the largest in South Asia, and is expected to play a key role in the One Belt, One Road plan.
Sirisena said that China should make it clear that it will not pose any threat to other countries.
He said he understands concerns that Beijing could use the port for military purposes. But he said doing so would violate the bilateral agreement and promised that his government will never allow that to happen.
Sirisena expressed enthusiasm for Japan’s plans to build quality infrastructure in his country in an effort to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region.