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China-backed Port City told to comply with Sri Lanka‘s language policy: Minister

Sri Lanka has officially told a state enterprise of China investing in the island nation’s language policy in the Colombo Port City following controversy over a name board, a minister said

May 30, 2021
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China-Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has officially told a state enterprise of China investing in the island nation’s language policy in the Colombo Port City following controversy over a name board, a minister said.

“We have officially informed them,” Education Minister G L Peiris told reporters.

“But that is not a matter which is cause for concern. That has been corrected.

“That has been brought to the notice of the relevant people and adherence to the language policy of the country will be mandatory,” Peiris said. 

The China-backed Port City firm ran into a social media storm after a picture of a signboard with English, Chinese and Sinhala started circulating, Economynext reported.

Port City said the sign had been erected by a contractor.

“Port City Colombo is still under construction and all signboards erected by the contractor within the site are for the benefit of site employees or authorized visitors,” the firm said in a statement.

“Although construction sites do not require temporary signboards in all official languages, as the majority of employees are locals, the contractor had used Sinhala for the signboards while also using English and Chinese, as there are a considerable number of foreign workers (Chinese) also at the site.”

The Port City firm said it requested the contractor to remove the signboards and “follow standard signboards within the site.”

“There has to be compulsory compliance with the language policy of this country,” Peiris said.

“The language policy, Sinhala, Tamil and English. There is going to be no departure from that. Port City Project any other project will obviously have to comply,” he said.

The comments came after Sri Lanka’s Attorney General unveiled plaque involving a Chinese-funded project which had also replaced Tamil with Chinese.

CHEC Port City Colombo is a joint venture between the Sri Lankan government and China Harbour Engineering Company,

The 269- hectare Chinese funded port city is being developed adjoining Colombo Port on reclaimed land from the Indian Ocean.

The Sri Lankan government hopes the project  could attract USD 15 billion in investments, and emerge as a leading business, retail, residential and tourist destination in South Asia.

Recently the Sri Lankan parliament passed the Colombo Port City  Economic Commission Bill, creating a city-based special economic zone.

Many analysts say Port City could be a game-changer for the USD 84 billion Sri Lankan economy. Yet some others call the project a potential threat to the island nation’s sovereignty, arguing that the new commercial zone would become a "Chinese colony".

(SAM)

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