China 'commends' Rajapaksa's defence of BRI during his India visit

PTI Beijing, China Feb 11, 2020, 11.37 PM(IST)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa (left) in New Delhi. Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

The BRI is an initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea route.

China on Tuesday "commended" Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's remarks that the island nation has received "lot of benefits" from Beijing's ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The BRI is an initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea route.

During his recent visit to India, Rajapaksa said his country has received a lot of benefits from the BRI.

China, in the last few years, received over eight billion US dollars funding for its infrastructure projects. Sri Lanka handed over its Hambantota port to China in 2017 as a debt swap.

When asked for reaction to Rajapaksa's remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, "China commends the comments made by Prime Minister Rajapaksa".

"China and Sri Lanka share a strategic cooperative partnership based on sincere mutual assistance and ever-lasting friendship," he said.

"Based on Sri Lanka's development needs, China offered loans to support its infrastructure building and other major domestic projects concerning people's livelihood. These projects and loans have boosted Sri Lanka's economic growth, created a large amount of local jobs and contributed to the country's sustainable development," Geng said.

"Those outcomes have been commended by the government and people of Sri Lanka. China stands ready to strengthen BRI cooperation with Sri Lanka to deliver more benefits to the two people," he said.