The government yesterday announced its fullest support for China's vital 'Sea and land' Silk route initiative. China is aggressively promoting its 21st century Maritime Silk Route and has succeeded in persuading Sri Lanka to extend its support for the initiative.
The deal materialized on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's State visit to the People's Republic of China from 6 to 9 April 2016 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang. Wickremesinghe also met Chinese President Xi Jinping during the visit.
Wickeremesinghe shared the Lankan Government's interest in China's efforts to establish the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route for greater economic cooperation, which is tagged as a road of friendship, economic cooperation as well as socio-cultural exchange and connectivity.
The government said the two sides will use the development of a 21st Century Maritime Silk Route as an opportunity to further advance infrastructure development. The new initiatives will also look at extending the China-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, promote joint ventures and expand cooperation in the areas of economy, culture, science and technology and people to people contacts to ensure that development brings benefits and more deliverables to the people and to build a community that has a shared destiny with both sides agreeing to promote mutually beneficial cooperation for development.
China has showed its willingness to promote dialogue in order to maintain peace and security in the region, a concern shared by India. Sino-Lanka leaders stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea too. In addition, Sri Lanka announced the resumption of work on the Colombo Port City Project and expressed willingness to facilitate and support the implementation of this project and to cooperate with Chinese companies to promote major projects as provided for in the MOU between the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China and Ministry of Development Strategies & International Trade of Sri Lanka, signed on 7 April 2016.
The government also welcomed the positive engagement of Chinese enterprises in the country's economic development. The government revealed that China will continue to encourage competitive Chinese companies to invest in Sri Lanka, with a view to reaping mutual benefits.
Both sides reviewed and noted with satisfaction the achievements in bilateral economic and trade cooperation and agreed to hold the 7th Meeting of the China-Sri Lanka Joint Trade Committee later this year.
In return, China pledged to continue assistance for Sri Lanka's economic and social development, improvement of people's livelihood, and on projects particularly in areas of public health services, agriculture and water conservancy.
Both sides agreed to convene the second meeting of the Joint Committee on Coastal and Marine Cooperation and convene the first Workshop on Marine and Coastal Cooperation.
The two sides expressed the willingness to maintain close relations between the two countries in the area of defence. They reiterated the need to continue to cooperate and work together on defence and security related issues.
(CTD - 10042016)