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International relations

Sri Lanka's silent port reveals China's ever tighter grip

Attempts at fiscal discipline strengthen Beijing's hand

Sri Lanka's southern port of Hambantota was leased to China in 2017 to ease the country's debt servicing burden. (Photo by Yuji Kuronuma) 

COLOMBO -- The front gate of southern Sri Lanka's Hambantota port was uncharacteristically deserted. Over the course of nearly an hour one mid-February afternoon, only a few vehicles passed by a lonely teahouse by the entrance. 

"Around this time, there were always 10 to 15 people having tea here," lamented Wilson, the teahouse owner. "But nobody comes since last December, when the government sold this port to China."

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