Colombo, January 9: The Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on Sunday sought from the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, a restructuring of the repayment of Sri Lanka’s debts to China and also a concessional trade-credit scheme to enable the island nation to import goods from China to make industries here operate smoothly.
The rescheduling of the repayment of loans would provide “great relief” to Sri Lanka, which had been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said.
China accounts for a little over 10 per cent of Sri Lanka’s foreign debts.
Since Sri Lanka had reopened to foreign tourists, the Lankan President requested Wang to assist in attracting Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka under the bio-bubble concept.
Wang, on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka which ended on Sunday, had called on the Sri Lankan President at the Presidential Secretariat.
The Presidential press release did not indicate what Wang said about the President’s specific requests. But Wang did say that he was “pleased to be back in Sri Lanka and that China would always support Sri Lanka as a close friend.”
It is significant that Wan’s delegation had the Vice Chairman of China International Development Cooperation Agency, Zhang Maoyu.
Minister Wang Yi extended an invitation to the President to visit China and expressed confidence that the visit would take place in the near future.
The press release further said that while warmly welcoming the Chinese Foreign Minister, President Rajapaksa recalled the historic close ties between the two countries. He extended his sincere gratitude on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka and its people to the Chinese Foreign Minister for the material and financial assistance received from China in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lankan President also expressed his gratitude to the Chinese Government for its continued support in providing Sinopharm vaccines to Sri Lanka in order to successfully implement the COVID-19 vaccination program.
Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong, Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming, Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao, Vice Chairman of China International Development Cooperation Agency Zhang Maoyu, Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage were also present.
The Chinese Foreign Minister called on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and visited the Colombo Port City Marina with the Lankan President. The Colombo Port City has been constructed by a Chinese company.