Published On: Sun, Mar 10th, 2024

The new £15.7bn seaside city paid for by China but being built 4,000 miles away | World | News

has footed the bill for an all-new multi-billion seaside city more than 4,000 miles away in a country beloved by Britons. Sri Lanka is not traditionally affiliated with China but has been chosen as the site for Port City Colombo, otherwise known as Colombo International Financial City.

Construction began on the new metropolis in 2011 after land reclamation filled in a new section of coastline opposite the Galle Face Green area in Colombo.

According to authorities, the project required 269 hectares of reclaimed land (1.03 square miles), the vast majority of which is owned by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).

And the $20 billion (£15.5 billion) city is the product of the Chinese government’s world-spanning Belt and Road initiative. Port City Colombo is on Sri Lanka’s west coast and approximately 3,510 nautical miles (4,038 miles) overseas from China.

But Chinese firms have a significant stake in the financial hub, with CCCC – a firm owned by the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) – owning 116 of the 269 hectares and the Sri Lankan government just 91.

When completed, companies that establish bases in the city will be within the Colombo Port City Special Economic Zone and Economic Commission, which will exempt them from all taxes for 40 years.

But the city is still nearly two decades away from that point, with authorities predicting in 2017 that it wouldn’t be completed until 2041.

When it is finished, officials behind the project believe it will give Sri Lanka a chance to compete on the world stage.

Saliya Wickramasuriya, who sits on the Colombo Port City Economic Commission, said the city could bring the country into contention with Dubai or Singapore.

She told the BBC: “This reclaimed land gives Sri Lanka a chance to redraw the map and to build a city of world-class proportions and functionality – and compete with Dubai or Singapore.”

But, at the same time, some politicians have warned the extensive Chinese involvement will drain away Sri Lanka’s involvement in a project on its own shores.

Rajitha Senaratne, an MP for Sri Lanka’s opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya party, warned China took over “as much as everything in the Port City” after the government agreed to the project.

He added: “One day, actually Sri Lanka won’t have any say in this project.”

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