Sri Lanka to join ‘one road, one belt’ initiative

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will participate in China’s ‘one road, one belt’ scheme and become a trade hub in the Indian Ocean with China investing and managing ports, airports and an industrial zone in the South of the island.

"Both sides had an in-depth exchange of views on relations and practical cooperation and reached much consensus," Xiao Qian, head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Asia department told reporters in Beijing after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

"Both share the view that China and Sri Lanka are good friends who have been through the test of time and no matter what changes take place in the international landscape and in our domestic environment our friendship and cooperation will always move forward.

"China is a country that cherishes friendship."

Sri Lanka would join China’s ‘one road, one belt’ scheme to "re-establish its position as the trade hub in the Asian Indian Ocean," and both sides also agreed to speed up the signing of a free trade deal.

He said Sri Lanka had given the go ahead to re-start sea reclamation to build a 1.4 billion city near Colombo port.

"The announcement to resume the work has been made by the Sri Lankan side but now we will go into further technical details," he said.

"This is an important project and both countries have a strong desire to further enhance and advance this project. On the Chinese side, we hope to see the earliest possible resumption."

Sri Lanka has said the China was demanding 125 million in compensation but no mention of the claim was made.

A Sri Lankan government statement said China had given a 500 million Yuan grant (about 77 million dollars) as a mark of friendship between the two countries