In context of China’s contentious infrastructure projects in Sri Lankan infrastructure, the alleged deployment of Chinese military personnel in Hambantota continues to evoke further concerns. According to True Ceylon, many Chinese men wearing a military uniform similar to the Chinese military wear were spotted at a dredging site in the Hambantota District. As per Sri Lankan law, wearing or even being in possession of a military uniform when not serving in the military is a punishable offence. Thus the Chinese personnel seen dredging a tank were going against the law. As usual, the Chinese embassy dismissed the allegations and cited it was common to wear such clothing.
Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, a war veteran and former Army Commander and MP, openly alleged that the Chinese military personnel were operating at the site. “Many in the present government have links with wealthy businessmen in China, therefore, it is clear how decisions are made,” he said. In the recent developments, the Chinese stationed in Sri Lanka have come under the hammer over the activities they have been engaged in after the successful takeover of the Colombo Port City project on a 99-year-old lease with a powerful governing power in their favour.
To safeguard China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China has deployed many ”companies” in Pakistan too. and it should not surprise Sri Lankans if Beijing’s deployment of its military as civilians to protect ”their” port in Hambantota and Colombo should not flabbergast Sri Lankans. No permission for dredging was seeked from Sri Lanka’s Department of Archaeology. Thus, it was stopped as soon as the footage aired, as the country is sensitive to preserving ancient ruins.
Cabinet spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella dismissed concerns of possible Chinese military presence in Sri Lanka, claiming on June 29 that the outfits worn by the Chinese workers were similar to overalls worn by Sri Lankan workers at local automobile workshops. On Tuesday he told reporters that if the archaeology act has been violated, there are laws that Sri Lanka can resort to. “We strongly reject that we were silent and cowardly about the incident,” he said. China’s increasing control over high-profile contentious Sri Lankan infrastructure projects has increased apprehensions that the country may soon become a Chinese colony.