China, on Saturday, strongly emphasized that no ‘negative force’ could stop the assistance it was providing to Sri Lanka, and China would continue its strong friendship with the island Sri Lanka according to NIA.
China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yi Xianliang, speaking at the launch of the southern economic development zone in the southern town of Hambantota said that this was a great opportunity for Sri Lanka, as more than 50 Chinese investors were interested in investing in the southern development project.
He said that if things go well, then within the next 3 to 5 years, China would invest at least 5 billion US dollars in the southern economic zone. This would also help create 100,000 jobs especially for the people of Hambantota and the south, he added.
“With all this, no negative force can stop the assistance and corporation which China is giving Sri Lanka, and no one can stop this strong friendship,” Yi said.
He further said Sri Lanka wasthe ‘most friendly’ country for China which is why it was China’s ‘highest priority’ to invest in Sri Lanka.
“In 2014, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Sri Lanka, we decided to make Sri Lanka our first priority for investments. Then in 2015, President Maithripala Sirisena visited China and we confirmed and decided to support each other. Then last April, Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe visited China. It is quite clear that the Chinese President and Prime Minister reached a consensus and now China will join Sri Lanka to help it establish its basic industrial system,” Yi said.
He further stressed that this southern development zone would be the most important economic activity for Sri Lanka and the government, particularly for Hambnatota people.
“This is not a small country but a great country with a 20 million population. A big country with big potentials. That is why today we have gathered here and I stand here to share with you my feelings. I will do my best to help develop Sri Lanka,” he said.
He further assured that all Chinese projects would follow the Environmental Impact Assessment and would follow the laws of Sri Lanka.
“This is my promise and promise from all Chinese business people. We will respect the decicison made by the Sri Lankan government and people. We will corporate with you, the government ministers and the people to make this area within the next 30 years a developed area.”
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking at the launch thanked China for investing in the southern economic zone and also thanked China Merchants Holdings for helping develop the Hambantota Port.
He further thanked China for showing interest in investing 5 billion dollars in the next 3 to 5 years and said this would pave way for Sri Lanka to be a developed nation.
“No one can stop us from establishing a new Sri Lanka so that our youth will benefit. Like Malaysia, Singapore, China, we will also be proudly developed,” the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, along with several ministers and a Chinese delegation led by Ambassador Yi Xianliang opened the southern development project in Hambantota on Saturday amidst a protest by followers of former President Mahinda Rajapakse who were opposing the Sri Lanka, China economic zone.
Protesters were dispersed with police firing water cannons. However clashes erupted after protesters pelted stones at the area where the ceremony was being held.
Sri Lanka has allocated 15,000 acres for Chinese investments in the south and will give an 80 percent stake from the Hambantota Port to China Merchants Holdings as part of turning debt into equity.
The Sri Lankan government has blamed former President Mahinda Rajapakse for taking hefty loans to build the Hambantota Port, highways and Mattala Airport during the previous regime, without any repayment plans.