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Sri Lanka welcomes Chinese investment, says minister

By Zhao Shengnan (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2015-02-28 21:07

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera invited Chinese investment and tourists on Saturday as he wrapped up the first visit by a Sri Lankan minister to China since the South Asian nation’s new administration took office last month.

"We encourage Chinese investors to capitalize on the new investment opportunities that have opened up in Sri Lanka,” Samaraweera said in Beijing.

The remarks eased concerns about the relationship which had been hightened by Sri Lanka’s new administration’s announcement that it would re-examine some Chinese-financed projects in the island nation.

During his two-day visit, Samaraweera met Premier Li Keqiang, who called for the nation to offer a sound legal environment for Chinese investment, foreign minister Wang Yi and commerce minister Gao Hucheng.

The two countries are negotiating a free trade agreement in a bid to further enhance trade, commerce and investment, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to China Ranjith Uyangoda said.

Samaraweera said Sri Lanka pursues a more balanced foreign policy, with the goal of engaging with the world.

He hailed Chinese counterpart Wang who said on Friday that China is open to three-party cooperation with Sri Lanka and India and is willing to explore approaches.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is scheduled to visit China next month, his second official overseas tour after winning last month's presidential election.

The new president visited India in his first foreign trip after the election in February.

China became Sri Lanka's biggest source of foreign direct investment in 2013 and is also Sri Lanka’s third-largest source of tourists.

Samaraweera said the number of Chinese tourists visiting Sri Lanka increased by 136 percent last year, and the nation has set a goal of receiving 250,000 Chinese tourists by 2016.

zhaoshengnan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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