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Expect China-style development for Sri Lanka: Gotabaya

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Chinese delegation is in Colombo; each side comply with revive FTA negotiations.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday stated he was concentrating on a China-style development mannequin for Sri Lanka, whilst he sought larger funding and a bigger market from the Asian big.

Following his assembly with a high-level delegation from Beijing in Colombo, an announcement from the President’s workplace stated plans had been afoot to recommence discussions on the Sri Lanka-China Free Trade Agreement, and to swiftly full the China-backed Hambantota Industrial Zone and the Port City in Colombo, a flagship $1.four billion undertaking in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Recalling his previous visits to China — “13 times” — President Rajapaksa advised the delegation: “I have seen massive development, especially in rural areas. My target is to bring about similar development, especially in rural areas in Sri Lanka, and to raise the living conditions of the people in this country, especially that of the poor. I look forward to seeing a visible progress in the Port City project over the next four years”, in response to the media assertion.

The delegation from Beijing was led by Yang Jiechi, a high overseas coverage official and a Politburo member of the Chinese Communist Party. Officials in Sri Lanka’s Foreign Relations Ministry described the go to of the “high-powered” delegation as a “goodwill gesture”, following President Xi Jinping’s invitation to President Rajapaksa to China, following the latter’s election win final yr. President Rajapaksa couldn’t undertake the go to within the wake of the worldwide pandemic.

In addition to pledging China’s continued help to Sri Lanka in worldwide boards, together with on the UN Human Rights Council, Mr. Yang stated: “China’s assistance will not be just lip service but concrete action to achieve the development goals,” the assertion issued by the President’s workplace stated.

‘Debt trap’

Further, President Rajapaksa advised the delegation that he wished to disprove the prevalent “debt-trap” evaluation of Sri Lanka-China relations, in reference to the Hambantota Port, and sought China’s assist in his endeavour of bettering the dwelling requirements of individuals by way of the undertaking. Building the port, strategically-located within the island’s southern tip, was Sri Lanka’s thought, not China’s, he stated, including: “We were convinced that it would be a project with a vast potential for generating income and employment opportunities. China offered to fund it.”

The assertion made no reference to any new loans — China sanctioned a $500 million-loan in March to assist Sri Lanka deal with the pandemic — or renegotiation of Sri Lanka’s present debt of over $5 billion to China, although officers earlier indicated that Colombo may enchantment to Beijing for a mortgage moratorium, identical to it did to New Delhi.

However, President Rajapaksa sought China’s assist to cut back the commerce deficit between the 2 nations, the assertion stated.

Significantly, the 2 sides agreed to renew negotiation of the FTA, that Sri Lanka and China in 2013 agreed to enter. It was stalled in 2018, reportedly after Beijing turned down the previous Colombo administration’s request to have the deal reviewed in 10 years.



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