New Delhi, Dec 10: China could use the facilities created by it at the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka for both civilian and military purposes, a senior French Naval officer has said.
The statement comes in the wake of China repeatedly arguing that its interest in the port is purely commercial.
The French Navy is expected to soon sign an agreement with the Indian Navy of classified information. This would pave the way for both the Navies to boost inter-operability. This would also further pave the way for joint operations in the near future.
Vice-admiral, Didier Maleterre said that the waters south of Sri Lanka are extremely crucial for the sea-lanes of communication from China to Europe and also to maintain the underwater Internet cables in the Indian Ocean that provide internet connectivity to large parts of the world.
On China, he said that they suspect that its use of the port would be dual. He also said that the Belt and Road Initiative is a Chinese strategy to protect sea-lanes of communication. They have a plan to have bays at Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Gwadar Port in Balochistan and Dijbouti in Africa. Sri Lanka is well placed between China and Europe, he also added.
We are a democracy like India and we have many things in common. We want the international rules-based order to be respected, he also added.