Ranil Wickremesinghe. Photograph:( ANI )
'The Belt and Road Initiative is really creating an economic system, which is helpful to us in Asia. I would call it innovative,' Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
Sri Lankan politicians praised China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for its benefits to their country.
As China-assisted projects under the BRI, like the Colombo Port City project and the Hambantota International Port development project, have benefited the economy of Sri Lanka and the life of local people, and Sri Lanka is among the first countries joining the initiative, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe spoke highly of the BRI in an interview with China Central Television (CCTV).
Wickremesinghe noted he has seen more countries in favour of the BRI over the past years, as the initiative linking existing land and maritime roads is helpful to development.
"The Belt and Road Initiative is really creating an economic system, which is helpful to us in Asia. I would call it innovative," he said.
Karu Jayasuriya, speaker of the Parliament, told CCTV that he is confident about the prospect of the BRI.
"Sri Lanka and China have been in a relationship which has been lasting for thousands of years. So, therefore, traditionally, we have been friends, and China has been a friend to us during good times and bad times, and we are very happy that China has been with us in this process of development. They have been involved with us in several development programs like the building of roads, buildings, the airports and also seaports, and especially in the infrastructure, the country is now opening up to the world as an ideal investment centre. So I'm happy with this initiative that you are taking. Sri Lanka will be seen as a country that is poised for growth," said Jayasuriya.
As the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing late April, Wickremesinghe said the Sri Lankan government participated in the first forum two years ago and got real benefits, so it will actively take part in the second forum as well.
"I was there at the first meeting of the Belt and Road Initiative [in Beijing]. We have all agreed together on the Belt and Road Initiative, it's potential for economic development." Wickremesinghe said.
The prime minister said the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will play a bigger role in the development and Chinese President Xi Jinping is courageous in starting the BRI.
The BRI, proposed by Chinese President Xi in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond.