( July 28, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake has spoken highly of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, expressing the hope that the government would like to see more Chinese investments.
Talking to Xinhua in an interview on Thursday, the newly appointed foreign minister said China and Sri Lanka had maintained strong ties since ancient times, with the relationship being at its strongest level at present.
While appreciating the large-scale investments China had brought to Sri Lanka, especially since the end of a civil war between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels which ended in 2009, Karunanayake said the country would benefit from more Chinese investments.
“We appreciate the investments that are coming in from China, but we would like to see much more,” he said.
While reiterating that Sri Lanka would soon be transformed into a global trading hub, Karunanayake said Sri Lanka’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative would strengthen its trading position even further.
We are happy we are part of this initiative and we as a government, by taking part in it, are implementing a ‘Sri Lanka first’ approach due to the benefits we will get from the initiative, Karunanayake said.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.
China has become one of Sri Lanka’s largest development partners with infrastructure construction projects worth billions of dollars. China is also one of the major FDI sources of Sri Lanka.