Colombo, June 8 (CCTV): China has responded to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s statement to Bloomberg news agency that Sri Lanka couldn’t tap a US$ 1.5 billion credit line from China and has yet to hear on the request to China for a US$1 billion loan and that China seems to have shifted its strategic focus to Southeast Asia and Africa, and has less interest in South Asia.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian told the media in Beijing, that “as traditional friendly neighbors, China pays close attention to and feels for the difficulties and challenges facing Sri Lanka. We have all along provided support to Sri Lanka’s socio-economic development as long as our ability permits.”
“China has announced that it would provide emergency humanitarian assistance worth 500 million RMB for Sri Lanka. The first delivery of medicine has arrived in Sri Lanka, and the first shipment of rice has left China for Sri Lanka.”
“Through government-to-government and subnational channels and through friendly organizations, China has provided multiple batches of assistance in diverse forms to people across the sectors of Sri Lanka to improve their livelihood.”
As to China-Sri Lanka financial cooperation, Zhao said: “Shortly after the Sri Lankan government announced to suspend international debt payments, Chinese financial institutions reached out to the Sri Lankan side and expressed their readiness to find a proper way to handle the matured debts related to China and help Sri Lanka to overcome the current difficulties.”
“We hope Sri Lanka will work actively with China in a similar spirit and work out a feasible solution expeditiously. China is ready to work with relevant countries and international financial institutions to continue to play a positive role in supporting Sri Lanka’s response to current difficulties and efforts to ease debt burden and realize sustainable development.”
What Sri Lanka Should Do
On what China expects Sri Lanka to do, Zhao said: “In the meantime, we believe Sri Lanka will boost its own effort, protect the stability and credibility of the investment and financing partners and ensure the stability and credibility of Sri Lanka’s investment and financing environment.”
South Asia Remains Priority
“South Asian countries, along with the other countries in our neighboring areas, are China’s priority in its diplomacy. China attaches great importance to forging closer good neighborly relations with its neighbors and has worked hard to this end.
“China and South Asian countries are each other’s friendly neighbors and development partners. Together we belong to one community with a shared future. From natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, to global challenges like financial crises and COVID-19, history has shown that China has always stood in solidarity with South Asian countries through difficult times.”
“Under the current circumstances, China will work with relevant countries to respond to risks and challenges and pursue high-quality Belt and Road cooperation to jointly sustain the sound momentum of security, stability, cooperation and development in our region and bring great benefits for all peoples in this region.”