China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has not only strengthened bilateral ties but has opened up new areas for cooperation, the Sri Lankan leadership has told the top Chinese leadership.
President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang exchanged greetings with their Sri Lankan counterparts Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe to mark the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties.
China considers Sri Lanka an important part of the BRI and has lavished investment on the island nation in the past decade. Colombo too has been eager to use its strategic location in the Indian Ocean to strengthen its infrastructure and economy.
According to China’s official Xinhua news agency: “Sirisena noted that Sri Lanka is firmly dedicated to promoting its relations with China and that he believed on the basis of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative will open up a new era for Sri Lanka-China cooperation.”
Friendship between Sri Lanka and China dates back to a long time ago, Sirisena said, adding that since the two countries established diplomatic relations, their ties have gained constant and sound development and were upgraded to a strategic partnership.
Xi said he appreciates Sri Lanka for its active participation in the Belt and Road Initiative.
“I am willing to work with you to consolidate political mutual trust, expand mutually beneficial cooperation and deepen people-to-people friendship" to inject new vigour into the strategic cooperative partnership “featuring sincere mutual assistance and enduring friendship”, Xi said.
Wickremesinghe, according to Xinhua, told Li that Sri Lanka-China friendship, which has continued for centuries through the ancient maritime silk road, was further strengthened under the BRI.
“The initiative has also provided opportunities for the two countries to explore new areas of cooperation,” he said.
Li said in recent years, the two countries, taking the BRI as an opportunity, had broadened cooperation. “China is willing to work with Sri Lanka to carry forward the traditional friendship and deepen win-win cooperation so that the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership can achieve more accomplishments,” he said.