- China reiterates pledge to do the maximum for Sri Lanka’s development
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday reiterated that the Government expected more investments from China and not loans, whilst the latter renewed its pledge to support for Sri Lanka.
The exchange of bilateral assertions took place when the new Ambassador to China Qi Zhenhong ceremoniously presented his credentials to President Rajapaksa yesterday.
A statement by the President’s Media said during the brief cordial discussion with the Chinese Ambassador President Rajapaksa expressed his satisfaction over the longstanding and lasting cooperation and friendship with mutual benefits between Sri Lanka and China.
“China extended its support towards Sri Lanka’s infrastructure development, especially after winning the war against separatism. Colombo Port City, Hambantota Port and Southern Expressway are some such initiatives. Some segments of society criticised this cooperation between China and Sri Lanka. Their argument was that these projects would not bear fruit. But the truth is the opposite,” the President said.
“Projects started with the assistance of China have high income generation and employment creation potential. My expectation is to see the full completion of these projects before the end of my tenure,” he added.
Rajapaksa also stated that Sri Lanka had made it a priority to attract investments instead of further foreign borrowings in its development drive. “There are vast investment opportunities available in our country. The agricultural sector, communication technology and education are special among them. Livelihood of around 30% of the population of Sri Lanka depends on rural agriculture. Achieving the kind of rural development that China has reached over the past two or three decades and to improve the living standards of the rural population in Sri Lanka is one of my prime objectives. We seek your assistance in this regard,” President told the new Ambassador.
In response, Ambassador Zhenhong said that his Government was ready to make the maximum possible contribution to the success of Sri Lanka’s economic and social development endeavours.
Extending President Xi Jinping’s good wishes to President Rajapaksa, the Chinese envoy said he aimed to further enhance long-standing friendship between the two countries and to strengthen development and strategic cooperation.
“After assuming office, you united the people of Sri Lanka. You guided the country on the path of economic growth while improving the living standards of the people. We witnessed how the Government and the people of Sri Lanka stood together in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the new Ambassador said. He also said that China wished to see Sri Lanka emerge as a prosperous nation.
Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardene, Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage, Deputy Head of the Chinese Embassy Hu Wei and the Head of the Political Division Luo Chong were also present.