The loss-making port will now be jointly managed by the state-owned Sri Lanka Port Authority and China Merchants Port Holdings.
Sri Lanka today formally handed over the strategic southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease, in a deal dubbed by the opposition as a sell-out.
Sri Lanka owes China $8 billion that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime borrowed for its infrastructure development projects, including the port.
Sri Lanka owed China USD 8 billion then finance minister Ravi Karunanayake had said a year ago.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Saturday that Sri Lanka had joined China's One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative with the launch of operations at the Hambantota Port through a joint venture between China and Sri Lanka.
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Both men were thrown over the road partition, where at least one of them was struck by a vehicle traveling northbound. Both men moved over to the should of the fast lane when a southbound vehicle began to approach them.
"There will be an economic zone and industrialisation in the area which will lead to economic development and promote tourism", the prime minister said.
The government's grant of large tax concessions to Chinese firms have also been questioned by the opposition.
The deal has raised concerns at home and overseas, where countries such as India and the United States are known to be anxious that China getting a foothold at the deep-sea port could give it a military naval advantage in the Indian Ocean.
Sri Lanka received United States dollars 300 million as the initial payment under the 99-year lease agreement which the opposition had described as a sell out.
A Chinese engineer watches the excavation process at the construction site for a deep water shipping port in Hambantota, Sri Lanka.
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