China has pledged to provide further funding to develop Sri Lanka’s transport sector that includes a number of expressways, road networks and railway lines, including a new Colombo-Jaffna expressway.
The president’s spokesman and the international media unit said in statement that the agreement was one of several reached during bilateral meetings between representatives of Sri Lanka and China that took place in Beijing yesterday.
Apart from the proposed Colombo - Jaffna highway, the Chinese government will also aid Sri Lanka in developing a Colombo-Kandy-Kurunegala expressway and extending the southern expressway from Matara to Kataragama.
President Rajapaksa thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for China’s continued support to Sri Lanka in a number of spheres. He also congratulated President Xi, who took over as China’s new president in March this year, and said his assumption of this high office was a testament to the confidence the Chinese people had in him.
President Rajapaksa said that his many visits to the East Asian nation had helped him gain a deep and profound understanding of China’s political, economic and social dynamics, and that he looked forward to working closely with the new administration.
President Xi, recalling the longstanding ties between China and Sri Lanka, said that the fact that President Rajapaksa was visiting China for the seventh time was an indication of the strength of the relationship between the two countries and said he looked forward to further strengthening the bilateral ties during his tenure.
During the bilateral meeting, the two delegations also discussed trade and tourism. The two countries signed an agreement to establish two committees that would work towards a free trade agreement. This would give Sri Lankan products such as apparel, gems and jewellery, tea and rubber wider access in the Chinese market.
In the area of tourism, Sri Lanka and China agreed to work towards the goal of attracting 100,000 Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka by 2015.
China has also pledged support for a number of other projects; Water supply schemes in Attanagalla, Minuwangoda and Kurunegala, an international conference hall in Kandy, an arts theater in Anuradhapura and the development of the national hospitals in Colombo and Ragama.
External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, External Affairs Ministry monitoring MP Sajin de Vaas Gunawardena, Ministers Wimal Weerawansa and Douglas Devananda, MPs A.H.M. Azwer and Namal Rajapaksa, Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, Finance Ministry Secretary P. B. Jayasundera, Chief-of-Staff Mr. Gamini Senerath and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in China, Mr. Ranjith Liyangoda were among those present at the meeting.