China, Sri Lanka keen to push Colombo port project: Chinese diplomat

Published : 8:38 am  April 8, 2016 | No comments so far |  |  (378) reads | 

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Xiao Qian, head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Asia department, told reporters following a meeting betweenSri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing that the project was an important one. “On the Colombo port, both sides agreed to further speed up the overall and comprehensive resumption of work on this project. The announcement to resume the work has been made by theSri Lankan side but now we will go into further technical details,” Xiao said. “This is an important project and both countries have a strong desire to further enhance and advance this project. On the Chinese side, we hope to see the earliest possible resumption. We believe we won’t have to wait too long.” He made no mention of the compensation issue, only thatSri Lanka had promised to protect the rights of Chinese companies and foster a sound environment for Chinese investors. Wickremesinghe, in remarks in front of reporters, said only that he would be looking to finalise an agreement for future bilateral cooperation. Asian giants India and China are both vying for influence inSri Lanka. China has built roads and ports on the island that India has long seen as its area of influence. Sri Lanka has sought to balance ties with China and India under President Maithripala Sirisena. Both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have visited India seeking investment, but the pace of Indian activity on projects is slow, offering China a chance to gain ground.