(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – China says over the past year the pragmatic cooperation between China and Sri Lanka has developed rapidly. Speaking at the Chinese National Day celebrations in Colombo, the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Cheng Xueyuan said that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Sri Lanka is expected to increase this year.
Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, several members of the joint opposition and military officers attended the National Day event in Colombo.
“There were more than 260,000 Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka in 2017 and this number is estimated to exceed 300,000 in 2018. More and more Sri Lankans are traveling to China. China has also become an important destination for overseas study and training for Sri Lanka people,” he said.
The Ambassador said that the reclamation of the Colombo Port City will complete soon and the second phase of development is about to start. “Hopefully, the Port City could become the new driving force of Sri Lanka’s development and the new financial center of South Asia. HIPG, the China – Sri Lanka joint venture has taken over the operation of the Hambantota Port and the profits have almost doubled. In future, the interactive development of the port, industrial park and city could become the new engine of Sri Lanka’s economy,” he said.
The Ambassador also said that the Moragahakanda Reservoir Headworks Project was completed and handed over successfully and the Extension of the Southern Railway and that of the Southern Expressway linking Colombo and Hambantota are drawing to a close.
“Over the past year, we have witnessed the friendly exchanges between China and Sri Lanka constantly expanding. High-level visits have become more frequent. Earlier this year, Vice Chairmen of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Mr. Wang Qinmin and Mr. Han Qide visited Sri Lanka respectively. And just a few days ago, we received Madam Li Bin, the Vice Chairperson of the CPPCC , who was on a friendly visit,” he said.
The Ambassador said that with its promotion and deepening all over the world, the Belt and Road Initiative has become the most important framework of consensus for the friendly and pragmatic cooperation between China and Sri Lanka.
“Now we are in the best period in history for the friendly and pragmatic cooperation between China and Sri Lanka. Past achievements motivate us to make great efforts today and today’s efforts would definitely create future glory. Let’s work together, stick to our goals, overcome all the disturbance, to push forward China-Sri Lanka cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, to build a community of shared future for China and Sri Lanka, and to bring more tangible benefits to our two countries and two peoples,” he said.
The Ambassador further said that in November this year, China will hold the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai and China has officially invited President Maithripala Sirisena to attend the Opening Ceremony leading the Sri Lanka delegation, to promote Sri Lanka, its abundant products and the enthusiasm of its people to the 1.3 billion Chinese people, and to deliver more fruits to the friendly and pragmatic cooperation between China and Sri Lanka.