Colombo, January 10 (newsin.asia): China proposes to help Sri Lanka become a manufacturing nation and to help build the “Made in Sri Lanka” brand. This was revealed to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa by the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his visit to the island nation on January 8 and 9.
“China will continue to assist Sri Lanka in overcoming temporary difficulties within our capacity. We are convinced that Sri Lanka’s economy will walk out of the current predicament and achieve new and greater progress. Colombo Port City and Hambantota Port are the flagship projects of bilateral cooperation in building the Marine Silk Road, and two engines of Sri Lanka’s economic development. China supports Chinese enterprises in investing and developing in Sri Lanka and combining Chinese capital and experience with Sri Lanka’s human resources advantages to help Sri Lanka improve the ability of self-development, accelerate industrialization, and build the brand of Made in Sri Lanka,” Wang said.
Wang said that the friendly relationship between China and Sri Lanka benefits the development of both countries and serves the fundamental interest of the two peoples. In a thinly veiled reference to India, which had stopped a Chinese project in the energy sector in North Sri Lanka on security grounds, Wang said that Sino-Lankan cooperation “does not target any third party and should not be interfered with by any third party.”
The Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa said that his country appreciates China’s policy of never interfering in its domestic affairs and thanked China for its “long-term and enormous support” for the country’s economic and social development. “China always lends a helping hand when Sri Lanka is in urgent need of assistance to help it tide over difficulties and keep moving forward,” the Lankan PM said.
Calls for China-Lanka FTA
In his talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Wang stressed the need to conclude a China-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement which has run into opposition from Lankan nationalists.
“Sri Lanka and China should make good use of the two engines, Colombo Port City and Hambantota Port flagship projects, tap the opportunities of the enforcement of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and China’s vast market, and discuss the restart of talks on a free trade agreement between China and Sri Lanka to send more positive signals to the world and contribute to Sri Lanka’s economic recovery and development. China encourages competent Chinese enterprises to invest and develop in Sri Lanka,” Wang said.
Forum on Indian Ocean Islands
Wang told his Sri Lankan counterpart, G.L.Peries, that China proposes to hold a forum on the development of the islands in the Indian Ocean.
“China proposes that a forum on the development of Indian Ocean island countries should be held at an appropriate time to build consensus and synergy, and promote common development. Sri Lanka can play an important role in this regard,” Wang said according to a Chinese embassy release.
Explaining the need for such a forum, Wang said that during his visit to several Indian Ocean island countries this time, he felt that “all island countries share similar experiences and common needs, with similar natural endowment and development goals, and have favorable conditions and full potential for strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation.”
In his first visit outside the borders of China in 2022, Wang visited Eritrea, Kenya, the Comoros, the Maldives and Sri Lanka between January 4 and 9.
Comrades in Fight Against Hegemonic Forces
Wang told Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, that 70 years ago, China and Sri Lanka, two newly born countries, overcame difficulties and obstacles and signed the Rubber-Rice Pact, opening the door for friendly exchanges, “demonstrating their national spirit in the fight against hegemony and power politics, and breaking the Cold War isolation imposed by the West based on ideology. “
He further said: “The spirit of the pact characterized by independence, self-reliance, unity and mutual support is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples and reflected in the entire process of the development of bilateral relations. It is still of great practical significance and worth our further inheritance and promotion.”