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Sri Lanka's Sirisena to China's Xi: Suspended port project will resume

world Updated: Mar 26, 2015 16:21 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Sri Lanka on Thursday assured China that it would provide favourable business environment for Chinese companies in the island nation, adding that problems with major infrastructure projects will be sorted out.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who met President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on Thursday, was quoted as having told Xi that work on the ambitious $1.4 billion Colombo Port City Project (CPCP) will resume soon after problems were sorted out.

Work on the project was suspended recently following questions about the project’s environmental impact and sustainability.

Some analysts say that it was suspended because of India’s unease about it – as with China’s growing influence in Sri Lanka during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime – and the Sirisena government did it as a sign of a change in foreign policy.

But on Thursday Sirisena indicated that the project will resume soon.

According to deputy minister Liu Jian Chao, Sirisena told Xi that the “problems with the project were temporary...and the problems were not with the Chinese side. We hope to continue with the project once things were sorted out”.

Liu, who briefed reporters after the meeting between the two Presidents, said Xi conveyed to Sirisena that he would encourage Chinese companies to invest in Sri Lanka and hoped that the government would provide “good and favourable conditions”.

Sirisena thanked China for the support it provided during the post-war “peace process and at the UN Human Rights Council”.

He added that China was a source of power in Sri Lanka’s economic and social development.

Sirisena also talked about trilateral cooperation in the region between China, India and Sri Lanka.

Xi called Sri Lanka a “hub” for the 21st Century Silk Road project.

Liu indicated that the ongoing Chinese projects could be brought under the broad umbrella of the Silk Road plan.

The two countries signed three agreements dealing with cooperation in public health, refurbishing the court complex in Colombo and improving the water supply and drainage system.