Amid Sirisena's Delhi visit, China awaits Lankan FM visit to Beijing

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Feb 16, 2015 18:54 IST

China will be closely monitoring the visit of new Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s ongoing visit to New Delhi, his first visit abroad after taking up his new post.

Sirisena is visiting India amid speculation that Colombo is recalibrating its foreign policy, which was focused on China during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime.

The talk of a civil nuclear deal between India and Sri Lanka will surely be monitored by Beijing, which has emerged as the island country’s largest donor since the end of the civil war in 2009.

IT will also follow the result of talks between the Lankan and Indian leadership on the Colombo port city project, which seemed to have been given the go-ahead by the new dispensation despite environmental concerns.

Beijing on Monday did not comment on Sirisena’s New Delhi visit. But it would be keenly waiting for Lankan foreign minister, Mangala Samaraweera’s visit to Beijing later this month, probably on February 27.

His visit, though not being officially announced by China, could be a preparatory on for Sirisena’s subsequent visit. It is quite likely that the Lankan President will make China his second port of call after India.

China has dispatched senior officials to Colombo soon after Sirisena won an unexpected victory against Rajapaksa.

Both Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week met Wang Jiarui, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Colombo.

Sirisena said Sri Lanka appreciates the assistance that “China had offered over the past and the country will continue to strengthen friendly cooperation with China in various sectors.”

Samaraweera, himself had hailed hailing China as an "all-weather friend" when meeting assistant foreign minister, Liu Jianchao earlier this month. "We welcome China to invest in and offer assistance to Sri Lanka," he said.

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