For the moment, the Chinese source said, the refinery deal was going forward.The two Chinese firms began exploring the possibility of building the refinery 18 months ago, and private refiner Dongming is looking to take a controlling stake, officials from the companies said. China Huanqiu Contracting & Engineering Corp, a subsidiary of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp, and private refiner Shandong Dongming Petrochemical Group have jointly bid for the refinery located near the port. Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Chinese companies had asked to sell refined products on to the local market, but had been told just to export. Sri Lanka has blocked a proposal by Chinese firms bidding to build the island’s biggest oil refinery to sell fuel locally, fearing a threat to domestic firms that dominate the small but growing market, the Reuters news agency reported.The veto is the latest in a tussle over Chinese investments in Hambantota, a southern town near an important shipping route, where China controls the sea port and plans an industrial zone for Chinese firms and a $3 billion refinery with annual output of around 5 million tonnes. Sri Lanka’s $6 billion market is controlled by state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corp and Lanka IOC LIOC.CM, a subsidiary of Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS).“We have asked the Chinese firms to go for partnership with existing players if they want to sell their products in the local market,” the official said. “We don’t want both our companies to suffer by letting another player in.”The two Chinese companies seeking local market access did not respond to a Reuters request for comment. “The Chinese companies asked permission (to supply local markets), but we did not give them permission. We asked them to participate in tenders of local suppliers, if they want to sell locally,” he told Reuters.Another government official, who didn’t want to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media, said Sri Lanka did not want to cede control of the local fuel market to Chinese firms. Hambantota is part of China’s vast Belt and Road initiative to build trade and transport links across Asia and into Europe, but Beijing’s widening footprint has raised concerns in India, the United States and even Europe. New Delhi sees the massive investment in the port town as another sign of the threat of China’s growing influence in the region. Even in Sri Lanka, the plan has been criticized for the loss of land and, more broadly, the tiny nation’s sovereignty.This year, Sri Lanka revised the terms of its deal with China Merchants Port Holdings (0144.HK), which has a 99-year lease on the Hambantota port, to give greater influence to a local state-run partner.A Chinese source in Colombo briefed on the refinery discussions said the two Chinese firms had made an informal request for the refinery’s products to be sold locally, but had been told by the Sri Lankan authorities that such a move could spark demonstrations by local trade unions.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge gives the keynote speech at the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London Credit:Chris Jackson/AFP “This is not a war that can be won by one state. We must look at organised crime at an international level.”“The natural heritage in African countries is not just our heritage. It is global heritage. But there is a paucity of resources. There is often no budget and we need some commitment in terms of funding.”The British government announced it would spend £900,000 to develop a new military anti-poaching task force. The unit will see soldiers deployed to train wildlife rangers in counter poaching techniques. It expands on ranger training programs launched in Gabon and Malawi earlier this year. However, African leaders and conservationists have warned that rhetoric has not translated into the commitment of resources equal to the scale of the challenge. The Duke of Cambridge has urged international law enforcement to follow the tactics used to snare Al Capone to catch drug lords and people traffickers, in a bid to end the illegal trading of ivory.The Duke, who gave a landmark speech outlining plans to end the illegal wildlife trade at a conference in London, said the world must treat it as the “serious organised crime that it is”.Saying the trade of animal parts was too often seen as “a lucrative and relatively low-risk activity”, he urged police and border forces to use it as a way to capture international criminal gangs.His comments came as African governments called for a $1 billion commitment to help them fight international poaching syndicates who are though to slaughter tens of elephants every day. Trafficking in ivory, rhino horn, and other wildlife products is thought to be worth £18 billion a year, making it the world’s fourth largest organised criminal industry. The first illegal wildlife trade conference in London in 2014 led to a ban on the ivory trade in China which came into force earlier this year. The Elephant Protection Initiative, an alliance of 19 African countries who have drawn up their own national plans to combat poaching, called for £1 billion in funding for national action plans over the next 10 years.Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla, Tanzania’s minister for natural resources, told the Telegraph: Addressing conservationists, businesses, and political leaders gathered in London to discuss efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade yesterday/THURS, the Duke said: It is heart-breaking to think that by the time my children George, Charlotte and Louis are in their twenties, elephants, rhinos and tigers might well be extinct in the wild.I for one am not willing to look my children in the eye and say that we were the generation that let this happen on our watch.“I am not asking anyone in this room to prioritise efforts to fight the illegal wildlife trade above drug trafficking or money laundering,” he said. “But I am asking you to see the connections. To acknowledge that the steps you take to tackle illegal wildlife crime could make it easier to halt the shipments of guns and drugs passing through your borders. Remember – Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion, not murder.”