Won't allow outside influences in Sri Lanka: China

Won't allow outside influences in Sri Lanka: China

Agency News

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has pledged not to allow “any outside influences” to interfere with Sri Lanka’s internal matters, The visiting Chinese Foreign Minister was speaking at President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office to media on Tuesday.

Wang Yi met the two leaders separately with both sides pledging to further promote relations between the two countries. "As Sri Lanka's strategic partner, China will continue to stand by Sri Lanka's interests," the visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister were quoted as saying by Gotabaya's office.

"China stands for the country's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. We will not allow any outside influences to interfere with matters that are essentially internal concerns of Sri Lanka," Wang Yi said.

The president told Wang Yi that Sri Lanka was facing many political challenges and the only way to overcome them is to be economically strong. "The economic independence will ensure political independence," Gotabaya said.

The president said Sri Lanka is ready to enhance Sri Lanka-China ties, strengthen bilateral win-win cooperation in various fields and actively promote the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative to build regional shipping and logistic hubs, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported from Colombo.

The visit bears significance in the wake of prevalent concern over Colombo’s outstanding debt to China over several largescale infrastructure projects, including the port in the southern town of Hambantota, for which China holds a 99-year lease.

The Sri Lankan government fully supports the development of major projects such as the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port, Mahinda said, noting that these projects will not only help develop the country's economy and improve people's livelihood, but also become a major driving force for the friendly cooperation between the two countries, it said.

In his response, Wang Yi said China, as in the past, would be Sri Lanka's longtime partner in prosperity and growth. He noted that China's policy towards Colombo had always been consistent and would continue to be Sri Lanka's reliable friend.

"China and Sri Lanka are strategic cooperative partners with sincere mutual assistance and ever-lasting friendship built upon a long tradition of friendly exchanges. Recent years has seen fruitful cooperation under the Belt and Road framework.

"China stands ready to work with Sri Lanka's new administration to carry forward the traditional friendship, strengthen political mutual trust, dovetail development strategies and bring bilateral relations to new heights," Wang Yi added.

President Gotabaya's postponed first visit to China will take place in February, his office said after the meeting.

In his meeting with the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister, the President said Sri Lanka is a small country that is strategically located. “As a result, the country has to face many political challenges. The only way to overcome them is to be economically strong. The economic independence will ensure political independence,” his office quoted him as telling the top Chinese official.