The Straits Times
Published on Dec 14, 2012

Sri Lanka defends China's expansion in Indian Ocean


COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka has defended China's increased naval presence in the Indian Ocean and rejected claims that it is a threat to regional power India, the defence ministry said on Friday.

The ministry quoted its top official, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, saying that Colombo understood China's growing interest in the region and insisted that their bilateral cooperation was purely commercial.

"It is obvious that the safety and stability of the Indian Ocean is critical for China's energy security, and its increasing interest and increasing naval presence in this region is quite understandable," Mr Rajapakse said.

Speaking at a maritime seminar at the southern port city of Galle on Thursday, Mr Rajapakse noted that China was carrying out major infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives, Pakistan and at the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka.