China, Sri Lanka to further strengthen economic, trade, investment and cultural ties

China, Sri Lanka to further strengthen economic, trade, investment and cultural ties

November 21, 2023   11:41 am

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Special Envoy and State Councilor, Shen Yiqin who is in Sri Lanka on an official visit has called on President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Monday (Nov.20).

The primary focus of the meeting with the Sri Lankan leader was to enhance tourism and trade relations between the two countries, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said. 

President Wickremesinghe has expressed gratitude for China’s support to Sri Lanka, notably acknowledging their assistance in the country’s debt restructuring program. He extended sincere thanks to the Chinese President and the government for their invaluable support in this regard.

Additionally, he expressed Sri Lanka’s desire to augment cooperation between the two countries in the fields of tourism, sports and agriculture also highlighted that both the Hambantota Port and Port City are currently prepared for investment opportunities.

The President also noted that countries such as Sri Lanka, participants in the Belt & Road initiative, are prepared to embark on the second phase of the initiative, which is expected to make a more substantial economic contribution.

The President outlined the measures taken by Sri Lanka to access the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP, while further affirmed Sri Lanka’s commitment to preserving the Indian Ocean as a free zone for navigation and ensuring it remains a peaceful region, free from global geopolitical rivalries.

The Chinese Special Envoy stated that China is also prioritizing the extension of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor to Sri Lanka. Additionally, both parties agreed to expedite the implementation of the China-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement.

Special Envoy Shen reaffirmed China’s enduring support to Sri Lanka and emphasized her commitment to strengthening the relations between the two countries.

During the meeting with the Chinese Special Envoy, PM Gunawardena mentioned that there is vast potential for further expanding economic cooperation between China and Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lanka highly value China’s continuous support to Sri Lanka,” he said when Special Envoy Shen met him at the Temple Trees Office in Colombo.

The Prime Minister, thanking China for the assistance provided to Sri Lanka to restore economy after the recent debt crisis, added that Sri Lanka would welcome public and private investments from China as well as investments in agriculture for production and export, renewable energy, IT, education and infrastructure development to provide long term solutions to economic issues.

“China’s support has given confidence not only to Sri Lanka but also other lending countries and international agencies to assist Sri Lanka’s process of debt restructuring,” he said.

Special Envoy Shen, who is also the Chairperson of All China Women’s Federation said China considers Sri Lanka as a close longstanding friend and looks forward to expand cooperation, invest in new projects, Colombo Port City, Hambantota Port, poverty alleviation programmes, education and  agriculture.

She said China is happy to see the progress made by Sri Lanka to overcome difficulties and assured China’s continuous support to the efforts to meet the economic challenges.

The Prime Minister made a special mention about the Chinese stand in support of Sri Lanka’s independence and sovereignty at all international forums. Special Envoy Shen assured that China will always stand for Sri Lanka’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

During the meeting, stressing the importance of further strengthening the longstanding cultural ties, Chinese Envoy said China proposes to build Sri Lanka’s largest Buddha statue shortly as a lasting symbol of religious ties.

Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong and a group of senior Chinese officials took part in the discussion.

State Ministers Janaka Wakkumbura, Ashoka Priyantha, Geetha Kumarasinghe, MPs Sudarshana Denipitiya, Yadamini Gunawardena, Rajika Wickremasinghe, Muditha De Zoysa, Manjula Dissanayake, Kokila Gunawardene and Prime Minister’s Secretary Anura Dissanayake were also present at this meeting, according to the Prime Minister’s Media Division.

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