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Sri Lankan hub dealings pit China against India

New Delhi jostles for airport control after Beijing gains stake in nearby port

Protesters, with a banner saying "Save Mattala International Airport," march towards the Indian consulate in Hambantota in early October. (Photo by Jeewan Chandimal)

COLOMBO At the eerily quiet Mattala Airport, on the forested southern coast of Sri Lanka, a battle between Asian superpowers is unfolding.

Few outside the country have heard of Mattala, and only one airline has been using the airport, located in Hambantota, 250km from Colombo, since it opened in March 2013. Now, however, Mattala is an object of contention between powerful domestic and foreign interests following a $290 million offer from the Indian government to take it over.

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