Beijing: President Xi Jinping has greeted his new Sri Lankan counterpart Maithripala Sirisena, saying China wants to take the ties to a new high amid anxieties here that the big clout acquired by China under the previous regime may wear thin in the new political dispensation.
In his congratulatory message, Xi who visited Sri Lanka last year, becoming the first Chinese head of state to go to Colombo in three decades, pledged to promote the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries under Sirisena leadership.
Besides being traditional friendly neighbours, Xi noted in his message that relations have withstood the "test of time", a gentle reminder about the heights the relations touched under previous President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, under whose decade-old regime Sri Lanka became China's closest ally next only to Pakistan.
In his message Xi said that in recent years, China and Sri Lanka have set up a strategic cooperative partnership and kept expanding mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, bringing tangible interests to the two peoples.
"China regards Sri Lanka as a trustworthy friend and partner," he said.
"Attaching great importance to the development of relations with Sri Lanka, I am willing to make concerted efforts with the Sri Lankan side to keep lifting the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership to higher levels," Xi said.
China has made big political investment by pumping over USD seven billion capital and loans during Rajapaksa regime.
It is concerned that the dangers of Sri Lankan public perception equating the disgraced outgoing regime with that of China, blunting its image in a country which emerged as Beijing's pivot to expanding its foot prints in India's back yard and Indian Ocean.
The concerns arise from the statements of Sirisena and the new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe that the mega investment taken at high rates of interests deeply indebted Sri Lanka for generations.
"This credit money received from abroad the mega ransom goes to few individuals Generations of our children and grandchildren will not be able to completely finish paying off this debt. If this trend continues for another six years, our country would again become a colony and we would be slaves," Sirisena's poll manifests said.