Fresh boost for SL-China ties

Monday, 10 January 2022 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gesture COVID-era greeting during their meeting yesterday 


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi locks his arm with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa showing great affection to Sri Lanka’s senior statesman during their meeting yesterday


  • SL asks China for debt rescheduling, tourists via bio-bubble, concessional trade credit scheme
  • Foreign Minister Wang Yi calls on President, PM
  • Greater market access for Lankan exports; attracting more Chinese investments to Port City and Hambantota industrial zone discussed 
  • Two leaders open Port City Marina Promenade, witness Sino-Lanka sailing competition
  • Two countries ink new deals for technical cooperation on health, low-cost housing in Colombo 

Sri Lanka and China yesterday saw a fresh fillip to its strong and long-standing bilateral ties with the former requesting for rescheduling of debt and tourists via bio-bubble, and the latter expressing continuous support. 

The latest impetus came alongside a 24-hour brief visit of People’s Republic of China Foreign Affairs Minister and State Council Member Wang Yi, which also heralds the celebration of the 65th year of diplomatic ties between the two countries. 

Wang had official talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa whilst he also officiated at the ceremonial opening of the Port City’s Marina Promenade, which can be patronised by the public as well from Monday.  

A statement from his Media Office said that President Rajapaksa requested Wang Yi to assist in attracting Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka under the bio-bubble concept. 

The President pointed out that it would be a great relief to the country if attention could be paid on restructuring the debt repayments as a solution to the economic crisis that has arisen in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rajapaksa also said that if a concessional trade credit scheme could be initiated for imports from China, it would enable the industries to operate smoothly.

In meeting with Premier Rajapaksa, the two leaders also discussed priorities for enhancing relations across the full spectrum, including further support for the vaccine drive, attracting investments to the Port City and Hambantota Industrial Zone, permission for Chinese tourists to enter Sri Lanka, expanding Sri Lankan exports to China and enhancing cultural cooperation especially on Buddhist ties.

Following the discussions, the delegations inked several agreements and exchanged documents further strengthening bilateral ties. These include an agreement on economic and technical cooperation, a letter of exchange on the project of Subsidised Housing for Low Income Category in Colombo, an exchange of the Technical Cooperation Project for BMICH and a handover of the Certificate of Technical Cooperation Project for the Kidney Disease Mobile Screening Ambulance Vehicles. 

During the interaction with Wang, President Rajapaksa recalled the historic close ties between the two countries. The President 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.

Recalling the profound friendship between the two countries, Wang Yi said that he was pleased to be back in Sri Lanka and that China would always support Sri Lanka as a close friend.  

The 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.

The President’s Media Office statement said Minister Wang Yi had extended an invitation to the President to visit China and expressed confidence that the visit would take place in the near future.

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 the President Lalith Weeratunga and Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage were also present.

In his meeting with Prime Minister Rajapaksa, Wang said: “China will continue to do its best to provide all the necessary help and support to Sri Lanka.” 

The Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also assured Premier Rajapaksa that Sri Lankan medical students would be given the highest priority to return to China to complete their education.

The matter was considered following a special request made by Premier Rajapaksa on behalf of Sri Lankan medical undergraduates, to the visiting Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister.

Currently, around 1,200 medical students, including 400 final-year undergraduates, who were studying at Chinese medical colleges, are waiting to return to China to complete their education. The students were unable to return to China due to the travel restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic. 

“This year is an important year for the two countries. It marks the 65th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations and 70 years of signing the Rubber-Rice Pact. Allow me to also congratulate the Communist Party of China on its 100th anniversary,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa said.

Noting that Sri Lanka’s economy was also greatly impacted by the pandemic, similar to most countries, Rajapaksa expressed gratitude for China’s assistance towards economic revival and financial stability. 

“There is still a long way to go in establishing normalcy, but we are confident that with support from friendly countries like China, we will be able to overcome these challenges soon. I look forward to continuing working closely with you and the Government of China in addressing common challenges,” the Prime Minister added.

Rajapaksa also thanked the Government and friendly people of China for the generous support extended towards Sri Lanka in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. “The consistent supply of the Sinopharm vaccines made a significant contribution to our successful vaccine program,” he said.

“I am happy to see you return after two years, and I believe these regular high-level visits help reaffirm our strong and friendly relations.”

Last year the Central Bank of Sri Lanka issued a commemorative coin to mark the 65th anniversary as well as the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. A set of the coins were gifted to the visiting State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi by the Prime Minister Rajapaksa.


Envoy says no third party can derail stronger China-Lanka ties