President Xi Jinping (1st L) and his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa (2nd R) hold talks in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sept 16, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]
President Xi Jinping and his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed in Colombo on Sept 16 to strengthen the two countries’ strategic cooperative partnership, and announced the launch of the negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA).
At their meeting, the two heads of state also vowed to jointly work out a blueprint for the further development of bilateral cooperation and friendship.
Xi stressed China will stick to the path of peaceful development and uphold the guidelines of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in its neighborhood diplomacy.
China and Sri Lanka are friends and partners of mutual trust and interdependence, he said, adding that bilateral relations have withstood the test of time and the volatility of the international situation, and become a model of friendly coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation between countries of different sizes.
China firmly supports Sri Lanka’s efforts to safeguard its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the Sri Lankan people’s choice of development path according to its national conditions, Xi said.
Currently the Chinese people are making all efforts to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, while Sri Lanka is pursuing the “Mahinda Vision”, which envisages ambitious economic growth through the scaling-up of investment and increased productivity, Xi noted.
He stressed that China is ready to work with Sri Lanka to seize such opportunities to make a good planning for bilateral cooperation and enhance the strategic cooperative partnership, which is in the fundamental interest of the two peoples.
The initiative of building the 21 Century Maritime Silk Road presents many opportunities for China to enhance cooperation with Sri Lanka in such areas as port construction and operation, maritime economy and security, and the construction of a maritime transportation center in the Indian Ocean
The two sides should make joint efforts to implement the pilot projects of reciprocal cooperation and speed up the FTA talks, he added.
Xi said he encourages Chinese companies to get more involved in the construction of Sri Lanka’s industrial parks, special economic zones and infrastructure projects. He also said he welcomes Sri Lanka to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member.
The Chinese leader also urged the two sides to expand exchanges and cooperation in tourism, culture, education and religion, and voiced support for Chinese-language education in Sri Lanka.
Regarding international issues, Xi said China would continue to work with Sri Lanka to promote communication and coordination within the frameworks of multilateral organizations like the United Nations, so as to promote regional peace and development.
For his part, Rajapaksa thanked China for its longtime support and assistance to his country’s development.
China’s initiative of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road echoes with Sri Lanka’s idea of building a maritime shipping center in the Indian Ocean, he said.
President Xi Jinping (L) and his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa hold talks in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sept 16, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]
Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka is ready to work with China to execute such cooperative projects as the Hambantota Port Project and the Colombo Port City Project, speeding up the FTA negotiations and enhancing bilateral cooperation in economy and trade, energy, agriculture, infrastructure construction and health.
He said Sri Lanka is willing to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
After the talks, the two presidents watched the live-broadcast of the opening ceremony of the Lakvijaya thermal power plant built in Sri Lanka’s northwest town of Norochcholai, which is expected to meet 45 percent of the total demands of the nation’s power grid.
They also witnessed the signing of the Action Plan of the People’ s Republic of China and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to Deepen the Strategic Cooperative Partnership.
In the action plan, the two sides expressed their satisfaction with the outcomes of the joint feasibility study on the China-Sri Lanka FTA.
The two leaders welcomed the swap arrangement between the People’ s Bank of China and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to promote financial cooperation and agreed to enhance the cooperation in customs and quarantine procedures, and quality inspection to facilitate trade, it said.
The Chinese government assures financing support for infrastructure and development projects agreed upon by both sides in Sri Lanka on preferential terms, according to the plan.
The two sides reaffirmed that terrorism, separatism, extremism have pose a serious threat to stability and security in the region and agreed to work together to combat these three forces within bilateral and multilateral frameworks.
The two sides agreed to further promote investment in the Magampura/Hambantota Port Project, enhance maritime cooperation and proceed with the construction of the Colombo Port City Project.
The sides pledged to tap the cooperation potential in tourism, expressed their pleasure to see the release of the documentary The Glamorous Sri Lanka, believing that this would help to attract more Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka.
President Xi arrived here earlier in the day for the first state visit to Sri Lanka by a Chinese head of state in 28 years.
He is expected to meet respectively with Sri Lankan Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and Parliament Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa on Sept 17.