Sri Lanka assures China port city project can resume: reports
COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has told Chinese President Xi Jinping that work would resume on the controversial Chinese-backed 1.4 billion US dollar port city project in Colombo, news agency reports said.
Sirisena arrived in China Wednesday on a four-day state visit at a time when ties had got strained after his new government suspended the port city project and began reviewing other Chinese-funded projects alleging they cost too much.
Sirisena told Chinese President Xi Jinping that work would resume after problems are "sorted out", new agencies quoted a Chinese Foreign Ministry official as telling reporters on the sidelines of visit.
"He (Sirisena) stressed that what happened around the port city in Colombo is rather temporary, and he said the problem does not lie with the Chinese side and hopes to continue with the project after things are sorted out," said Liu Jianchao, assistant minister of foreign affairs.
Both sides said they continued to back the project, but any specific changes to it would have to be worked out by the companies involved, Liu said.
China, Sri Lanka’s biggest investor and a top trade partner, has defended the project, saying it is in line with local laws and any cancellation would deter foreign investors.
In opening remarks, Xi said China considers Sri Lanka a strategic partner and wants to "again promote and elevate the China-Sri Lanka relationship to fulfil an important purpose."
"China has always placed Sri Lanka in an important diplomatic position in region," Xi said before reporters were ushered from the room.