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Jaffna University says China has a hidden agenda to grab fertile lands in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan coast

The Jaffna University (JU) has refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China’s State Agricultural University, saying that the deal has a hidden agenda. The university alleged that Beijing is using the MoU as a smokescreen to take over fertile lands.

JU Vice Chancellor Sivakolundu Srisatkunarajah refused to sign the MoU saying that the Chinese university seeks to grab fertile lands in country’s North and East under the pretext of development.

The latest allegations show that relations between China and Sri Lanka continue to face hurdles. Sri Lankans harbour suspicions against China over its debt-trap and exploitative economic policies towards the island nation.

The JU vice chancellor’s statements also remind of the diplomatic crisis between the two countries related to contaminated organic fertiliser that a Chinese company was trying to sell to the island nation last year.

The university’s students union has criticised the government for trying to sign agreements with China against the will of the people. The students union alleged that a “secret arrangement was made to sign an MoU strongly supported by the Government of Sri Lanka.”

Giving an example, the students union said that China has already grabbed large chunks of sea areas under the pretext of setting up sea cucumber farms and has created divisions among fishermen.

“Now, China is eyeing to grab the fertile agricultural lands in the North and East with a malicious calculation to manage a severe food crisis which seems imminent in China in ten years. China allegedly supplied faecal matter with harmful bacteria as fertiliser to Sri Lanka and compelled Sri Lanka to pay millions of rupees. This is a classic example of how China will grab our fertile agricultural lands and enslave us to manage the upcoming food crisis in China,” the statement said.

The students union added that Sri Lanka is a victim of China’s non-transparent and unsustainable loans. It noted that only Japan and India have supported Sri Lanka’s IMF plans to restructure loans while China only seeks to provide more loans to Sri Lanka.

The students union has accused the Sri Lankan government of making a secret deal with Beijing to sell fertile land in north and east to China.

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