China’s maritime policy a win-win, says Chinese Ambassador
China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Route (MSR) policy does not seek to interfere in internal affairs of countries or otherwise dominate regional issues, China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka assured here on Friday.
The MSR has caused much curiosity among the international community observed China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka Wu Jianghao, but he assured it was simply an inclusive platform aiming to combine the rapidly-expanding Chinese economy with the benefits of all countries involved.
“It (MSR) foresees no interference in the internal affairs of the countries involved, nor does it seek to dominate regional affairs or secure spheres of influence in the region,” he told a seminar on MSR organised here.
Five links will take place due to MSR bringing “tangible” benefits to people, he insisted.
The first of these will be a political link that will promote mutual trust such as upgrading Sri Lanka-China relationship to a “strategic partnership”. China would like to strengthen exchanges through high-level visits between the two countries in the future, Wu added.
The second link of connectivity can be seen in massive infrastructure development taking place in Sri Lanka, which is estimated to be over $ 5 billion. During Chinese President Xi Jingping’s visit over 27 new agreements were signed that would also tie into this element.
The Colombo Port City Project is perhaps one of the largest of these at $ 1.4 billion in investment.
Trade is a crucial link tying MSR to countries along Asia and Africa. Negotiations on Sri Lanka’s Free trade Agreement (FTA), which is to be signed next year is one way trade is expected to increase. Currently over $ 3 billion in trade connects the two countries but the trade balance is overwhelmingly in favour of China.
Currency agreements are another connection with Sri Lankan banks allowing transactions in yuan and swap agreements with Chinese banks and Sri Lanka’s Central Bank. Sri Lanka’s founding membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is another aspect.
“Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka have increased by 140% in the first nine months of this year exceeding 100,000. The two sides will make joint efforts to achieve the aim of attracting 250,000 Chinese tourists by 2016. In future China would like to carry out infrastructure projects which cater to Sri Lanka’s strategy to build “five hubs” of maritime, energy, knowledge, commercial and tourism.”
He proposed setting up joint ventures to enhance development of Sri Lanka’s manufacturing and other industries.
“A few days ago President Xi announced China will set up a Silk Road Fund with the aim of directly supporting the construction of Silk Road Economic Belt and the MSR, which demonstrates China’s firm commitment to this initiative,” he said.
Future infrastructure focused on 5-hub links, MSR fund to provide finances