When it comes to Sri Lanka’s national security and sovereignty, nothing seems more guaranteed to generate heated discussion than the spectre of foreign involvement in seaport developments. After years of wrangling, Sri Lanka, India and Japan finally signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on 28 May 2019 to develop the strategically-located Colombo port’s East Container Terminal (ECT). But the ink was barely dry when disputes broke out again about the government’s authority to divest ‘strategic assets’ to foreign companies.
The ECT deal is yet another of Sri Lanka’s entanglements in regional and global power rivalries, which are being played out on its shores. Ownership over maritime port connectivity appears to have become symbolic of this power play.
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