Sri Lanka wows support for belt and road initiative on China FM visit
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has backed China’s ‘belt and road’ initiative and furthered talks on the participation of Chinese firms in the island during a visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
Sri Lanka falls on the coastal ’21st century Maritime Silk Route’ section of the belt and road initiative.
"Discussions were also held regarding the Belt and Road initiative put forward by China," Samaraweera said.
"Sri Lanka reiterated its participation in this initiative, as it is in line with the Government’s initiatives to make Sri Lanka the hub of the Indian Ocean trade, a position it occupied in the ancient past.
"We discussed the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road for greater economic cooperation, which is viewed as a road of friendship, economic cooperation, socio and cultural exchange and connectivity."
Sri Lanka is already a member of the China backed Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank which is a related link in the ‘belt and road’ initiative.
China already owns a container terminal in Sri Lanka’s main port in Colombo.
It has financed a port and airport in the island’s Southern tip, which is now making large losses, and its loan repayments are undermining the finances of the state-run port and airport agencies.
China is expected to build and own a container terminal in Hambantota and will also build a dockyard.
Chinese enterprise are also widely expected to bid to lease or buy and operate the loss-making Mattala international airport in the South. (Colombo/July10/2016 – corrected opening para, headline)