Huge potential in cooperation

Chinese lotus towerBoth Sri Lanka and China are deepening reforms, in the process of which we see huge potential for cooperation, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Beijing on Saturday.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua before concluding his four-day official visit to China, Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka and China share similarities in the way of thinking in various fields such as economic restructuring.

Sri Lanka is “ready to seek more economic cooperation opportunities with China,” the prime minister said.

This is his seventh visit to China while first time since winning a parliamentary election in August last year. “It has been 37 years since I first visited China in 1979 when the country just initiated reform and opening up. The great achievement China has made proves only reform can make a country stronger,” said Wickremesinghe.

Currently, the weak global economic growth requires all the economies to rely more on each other, and there is no exception for Sri Lanka and China. “That is why strengthening cooperation is so important,” he said.

Sri Lanka has shown its willingness to develop greater synergies between its own strategies and China’s 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road initiative.

Projects such as the Hambantota Port and the Puttalam Coal Power Plant Project have become icons for the two countries’ cooperation in infrastructure construction, Wickremesinghe stressed.

In a joint statement issued on Saturday, Sri Lanka announced the resumption of work of the Colombo Port City Project and expressed the willingness to facilitate and support the implementation of this project and to cooperate with Chinese companies to promote other major projects.

“Infrastructure is just a start. The cooperation between China and Sri Lanka is expected to be intensified and go far beyond that,” Wickremesinghe said. “For example, the Colombo Port City will become a financial and business hub in not only Sri Lanka, but also in the whole region of the Indian Ocean.”

Wickremesinghe also spoke highly of the supply-side structural reform,one of the priorities in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan, believing it will bring fresh impetus to China’s economic development and that of Asia and the whole world.

As China has become the second largest source of visitors to Sri Lanka, Wickremesinghe expects tourism will not only facilitate people-to-people exchanges, but also “attracts more Chinese investors to make relevant infrastructure more developed in Sri Lanka.” (Xinhua)

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