Sri Lanka's 'new Dubai': will Chinese-built city suck the life out of Colombo?

Sri Lanka's 'new Dubai': will Chinese-built city suck the life out of Colombo?

Built on land reclaimed from the Indian Ocean and funded with $1.4bn in Chinese investment, glossy plans for Port City inspire a mixture of optimism and alarm

Iron cannons installed by the Dutch to ward off colonial rivals still line Galle Face Green, a grassy, mile-long promenade along the Colombo seafront. Further out to sea, within range of the guns, a new world power is leaving its mark on Sri Lanka’s capital.

Currently, Port City is just a flat expanse of blank land jutting out into the ocean, growing a fraction larger each day, as dredging ships pour what will eventually amount to 65 million cubic metres of sand.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a huge, $1tn infrastructure project to better connect China – and Chinese goods – with the rest of the world. It is meant to be a 21st-century “silk road”, made up of a “belt” of overland corridors (including roads, bridges and railways) and a maritime “road” of shipping lanes.

The project is totally harmful to tourism and totally harmful to fishermen

Related: What is China’s Belt and Road Initiative?

Port City will be a separate entity where only a certain class of people will live

Related: Germany’s ‘China City’: how Duisburg became Xi Jinping’s gateway to Europe

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