(Colombo, Lankapuvath) President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an exclusive interview with Xinhua News Agency has hailed Chinese Xi Jinping’s initiative of 21st Century Maritime Silk Route, saying that the economic corridor bears significance to the development of Sri Lanka.
President has further stated that Sri Lanka will join China’s efforts in the Silk Road trade coorperation, while stating that Chinese President’s scheduled visit on 16th September, first visit after 28 years, is “important” for the enhancement in bilateral ties between two countries.
He said the two nations have a history of friendly relations and the friendship was ushered into a new era since the two sides upgraded their ties to strategic cooperative partnership in May last year.
President Rajapaksa has mentioned meeting Chinese President Xi Jingping in several occasions during President’s seven visits to China since taking office as president. President has further stated that Chinese President’s visit is most looked forward for.
In the interview President has noted Sri Lanka’s plans to boost cooperation with China in trade and investment, which harmonizes with the framework of the 21st Century Silk Road.
The two nations, since Sri Lanka ended the decade-long conflict in 2009, have effectively cooperated in re-construction and other sectors, said the president.
Chinese enterprises have been carrying out a number of infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka and the president praised the establishment as having positive impact on his country’s social stability and prosperity.
During the interview President has told that planned Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will cover many sectors including industry, energy, technology, infrastructure and tourism while observing that the FTA will boost the trade and investment ties as well as Sri Lanka’s export to China, creating new momentum for the island nation’s development.
The president said we welcome more Chinese visitors to tour Sri Lanka.
China is Sri Lanka’s third largest source of tourists.
The number of Chinese visitors in Sri Lanka stood at 82,000 in the first eight months of the year, seeing a year-on-year rise of 141 percent.
The figure is predicted to surpass 100,000 at the end of this year.