China will continue to support Sri Lanka in expanding critical infrastructure like roads, bridges and highways.
The Prime Minister of China Wen Jiabao promised his country’s support to the island nation during a bilateral meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Shanghai where the latter was invited to attend the closing ceremony of the Shanghai Expo 2010.
Rajapaksa’s three-day visit to China, beginning October 28, came within two weeks of his New Delhi visit where he was invited to attend the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
Similarly, in June, while Rajapaksa was in New Delhi talking cooperation and signing seven agreements with the Indian government, a top leader from China was in Colombo – heading a 30-member delegation – to sign six pacts.
Much of Sri Lanka's development projects like a new port, airport and a power plant already receive China's financial and technical support.
The country has emerged as Sri Lanka’s biggest donor replacing Japan. Since 2006, the Chinese government has provided Sri Lanka $3.04 billion in financial assistance. It is aiding Sri Lanka in several projects like the Katunayake Expressway, extension of the railway line from Matara to Kataragama, the Norochcholai Coal Power Project, the Hambantota Port Development, and building the Centre for the Performing Arts in Colombo.
According to the board of investment (BOI), besides infrastructure, Chinese companies have also invested in other sectors like electronics and garment-making. Chinese companies also have access to a free trading zone meant exclusively for them.
``China pledges more aid’’ was the leading story of the government-run *Daily News* on Monday.
Both leaders appreciated the increased connectivity between the two countries with China Eastern introducing flights to Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Airlines flying to Shanghai from July 2010.
Rajapaksa appreciated China’s steady supply of lethal weapons and ammunition during Sri Lanka’s fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). ``He also emphasised on the consistent and absolute support of Sri Lanka in the 'One China' policy advocated by the successive leaders of Sri Lanka,’’ the Presidential secretariat said in a statement.