Sri Lanka’s UNP cozies up to Chinese Communists

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ruling United National Party, which before being elected vowed to scrap a big Chinese investment in the island, is strengthening ties with the Communist Party of China (CPC).
 
It is sending a delegation of young politicians and party cadres to China to “study the working of the CPC,” the Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka said in a statement.

“This will create an opportunity for human resource development to build the UNP party organizational and leadership skills,” said the BOI which comes under Malik Samarawickrama, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade.

The BOI said Samarawickrama, also chairman of the UNP, had a “productive” meeting with Song Tao, Minister and Cheng Fengxiang, Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC during a recent visit to China.

Samarawickrama was accompanied by Minister of Southern Development and Law & Order Sagala Ratnayaka, also the UNP’s Secretary, International Affairs.

Both men are consideered confidants of UNP leader and Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe.

Their visit came ahead of a planned visit to Beijing by Wickremasinghe, who before being elected vowed to scrap the 1.4 billion US dollar ‘Port City’ real estate project on reclaimed land off Colombo, funded entirely by Chinese.

Wickremasinghe’s government, which has investigated other Chinese investment projects, saying they are over-priced or unnecessary, now says the Port City project will be approved with minor changes.

The BOI said Samarawickrama during his visit had conveyed “the message that the Government of Sri Lanka was accelerating the implementation of ongoing Chinese projects.

It said the Chinese authorities saw opportunities for strengthening bilateral cooperation and looked forward to Wickramasinghe’s visit to China in April to take the relationship to “a new level.”

The UNP and CPC have initiated plans to “deepen relationships”, the BOI said.
(Colombo/March07/2016)

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