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Sri Lanka revives port deal with India, Japan amid China concerns | Asia Pacific News

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The deep-sea jetty is located next to the Colombo International Container Terminal, which is 85 percent owned by China.

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has announced the revival of an Indian and Japanese investment project to develop a deep-sea terminal in Colombo harbour, next to a controversial $500m Chinese-run container jetty.

A tripartite deal by Sri Lanka’s previous government had been on hold amid trade union resistance but Rajapaksa on Wednesday said the East Container Terminal (ECT) would proceed.

The approval came after reviewing “regional geopolitical concerns,” Rajapaksa’s office said, a reference to India’s suspicion of China’s role at the same port.

The terminal will be developed with 51 percent ownership by Sri Lanka’s government and the remaining 49 percent as an investment by India’s Adani Group and other stakeholders including Japan, officials said.

The state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) entered into a memorandum of cooperation in May 2019 with Sri Lanka, India and Japan to develop the ECT before Rajapaksa came to power in November 2019.

The deep-sea jetty is located next to the Colombo International Container Terminal, which is 85 percent owned by China and was commissioned in 2013. The SLPA owns the remaining 15 percent.

India lodged protests when Chinese submarines made unannounced visits to the Chinese-managed terminal in 2014. Since then, Sri Lanka has refused permission for further submarine calls.

Nearly 70 percent of transhipment containers handled by Colombo was Indian export-import cargo.

In December 2017, Sri Lanka, unable to repay a huge Chinese loan, handed over another deep seaport in the south of the island to a Beijing company in a deal that raised concerns at home and abroad.

The $1.12bn deal, first announced in July 2016, allowed a Chinese state company to take over the Hambantota port, which straddles the world’s busiest east-west shipping route, on a 99-year lease.

India and the United States are concerned a Chinese foothold at Hambantota, 240km (150 miles) south of Colombo, could give it a military naval advantage in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka has insisted its ports will not be used for any military purposes.



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Trapped China miners ask for rice porridge, sausages | China News

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Rescuers drilled three more channels on Tuesday as they race against time to extract the 22 workers.

Workers trapped in a Chinese gold mine for more than nine days have received more medical and food supplies, including bandages, blankets and rice porridge, but one of the group is in a critical condition with a severe head injury, state media said.

A total of 22 workers were left trapped in the Hushan mine, in Shandong province, after an explosion on January 10.

A week later, it emerged that at least 12 of them were still alive as a note retrieved from the mine said: “We hope the rescue won’t stop.”

A drilled channel on Sunday located 11 of the miners, who were working more than 600 metres (1,968 feet) underground and rescuers were subsequently able to speak to them via a wired telephone.

But the progress of the rescue has been slow, according to Chen Fei, a top city official.

Rescuers drilled three more channels on Tuesday in an effort to extract the trapped miners [Stringer/AFP]

“The surrounding rock near the ore body is mostly granite … that is very hard, resulting in the slow progress of the rescue,” Chen told reporters.

“There is a lot of water in the shaft that may pose a danger to the trapped workers.”

Chen said the current food supply was only enough for two days.

‘Please speed up the rescue’

Rescuers drilled three more channels on Tuesday, according to a rescue map published on the Yantai government’s official Weibo account, a Chinese version of Twitter.

More than 300 people are involved in the rescue effort and excavators and machinery are on site but the teams have warned it will be extremely difficult to bring out the miners from the tunnel’s entrance.

The official Xinhua news agency said the miners had requested on Monday evening sausage and pickles as well as porridge but medical experts decided they should not eat hard food having only just regained their strength.

Fortified by the food and medical supplies – the fourth consignment to reach the group – two workers who had previously been very weak were able to walk again on Tuesday, Xinhua reported, citing a member of the rescue team.

However, the state-run newspaper People’s Daily said one worker was in a coma and in a critical condition, after sustaining a head injury in the blast, while two were “mildly unwell” and eight in good health.

One more worker has been located in another section of the mine, while the whereabouts of the other 10 remain unknown.

News that some of the miners are still alive has boosted Chinese netizens’ hopes for a miraculous escape, with thousands leaving prayer messages on Weibo and calling on the authorities to “please speed up the rescue”.

China’s National Mine Safety Administration has ordered a comprehensive inspection of the country’s non-coal mines, which will continue until the end of March, the People’s Daily reported.

There are 32,000 non-coal mines in China, most of which are small, use outdated technology and equipment and have poor safety management, it said, citing an administration official.



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