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India Buying World’s Emptiest Airport to Compete with China

To combat China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean region, India has decided to buy Sri Lankan’s least used airport, according to BusinessInsider.

Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport opened in 2013 as a vanity project created by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and receives only a dozen passengers each day.

India is paying $300 million for a joint venture granting it a 40-year lease over the nearly 2,000-acre space in southern Sri Lanka. The space is so empty that it has been used for rice storage in the past.

David Brewster, an expert in Indian Ocean strategies at the Australian National University, says that while India’s plans for the airport are hazy, the actual use the country finds for it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the airport is close to a shipping port in Hambantota, which is run by China.

There is growing concern that China wants to use the port as a naval base but won’t be able to do so without access to an airport. By purchasing the airport, India is blocking the growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region.

Back in 2015, the US confirmed the presence of Chinese missile-carrying ships in the Indian Ocean. Since then, Sri Lanka has reportedly given more resources to China’s government. And earlier this year, China opened its first international military base on Africa’s horn, directly across from India.

[Image: Wikipedia]

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