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China, Sri Lanka to deepen defence cooperation

The two countries agreed to promote the “strategic partnership of cooperation featuring sincere mutual support and long-lasting friendship.”

world Updated: Mar 21, 2017 21:33 IST
A dredger pumps sand to reclaim land outside the port of Colombo  as part of a $1.4-billion real estate development by China.
A dredger pumps sand to reclaim land outside the port of Colombo as part of a $1.4-billion real estate development by China. (AFP)

China and Sri Lanka will deepen cooperation in all sectors including defence, official media said on Tuesday as defence minister and state councillor Chang Wanquan wrapped up a visit to the island nation before heading to Nepal.

The official news agency, Xinhua, quoted Chang telling President Maithripala Sirisena that the two countries agreed to promote the “strategic partnership of cooperation featuring sincere mutual support and long-lasting friendship.”

Sirisena expressed “his appreciation for China's consistent assistance for his country in economy, agriculture, science and technology, education, defence and other areas.”

“He noted that Sri Lanka is an important country along the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, saying China would like to work together with Sri Lanka in promoting each other's development so as to benefit their two peoples,” the Xinhua report said.

In Beijing, the state media clamour that India was trying to sour China’s relations with south Asian countries continued.

“India is not supportive of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which is a significant part of the Belt and Road initiative. Chang's visit to Sri Lanka and Nepal may help India understand that China is welcomed by not only Pakistan, but also other countries in the region,” Wang Yiwei, director of the Centre for International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the state-controlled tabloid, Global Times.

“Many countries in South Asia are worried about India's military power in the region, so they would like to have cooperation with other countries to increase self-defense capability,” Wang said. The newspaper said the “Kingdom of Sikkim was annexed by India in 1975, which showed that India has ulterior motives with regard to its smaller neighbours.”