China / Government

China, Sri Lanka to strengthen marine cooperation

By Mo Jingxi ( Updated: 2015-02-27 21:46

China and Sri Lanka have agreed to boost bilateral ties including marine cooperation, dispelling suggestions that the new government is distancing itself from Beijing.

The nations continue to value each other’s friendship despite international and domestic changes, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after meeting Sri Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera on Friday.

They also confirmed a visit by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in late March at the invitation of Chinese opposite number Xi Jinping.

Samaraweera is in Beijing for a two-day official visit, the first by a cabinet minister since Sirisena's government took office in December. The trip is helping lay groundwork for the President's visit.

Beijing is willing to discuss cooperation with Colombo on port development, marine resource conservation and ecological protection as well as collaboration on maritime search and rescue operation, Wang said.

During the meeting, China proposed making the joint building of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road the priority of future bilateral cooperation, and regarding the FTA negotiation and agreement, infrastructure construction and industrial cooperation as three pillars.

Samaraweera said he expected the President's visit to bring the China-Sri Lanka friendship to a new height.

He also expressed the new government's willingness to support and take part in the construction of the Maritime Silk Road as the route has benefited Sri Lankan people greatly since ancient times.

The new government is also keen to make Sri Lanka a prime destination for foreign direct investment in Asia, Samaraweera said.

"We want to ensure that we will always welcome Chinese investment," he said, noting that the country's current reforms are aimed at creating a conducive and safe environment for foreign investors.

China became Sri Lanka's biggest source of foreign direct investment, accounting for 24 percent of Sri Lanka's total in 2013.

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