China's Premier congratulates new Sri Lankan PM

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday congratulated his new Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickramasinghe, saying Beijing attaches great importance to its ties with Colombo and stands ready to advance strategic partnership based on mutual respect.

Beijing: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday congratulated his new Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickramasinghe, saying Beijing attaches great importance to its ties with Colombo and stands ready to advance strategic partnership based on mutual respect.

Li, in his message to Wickramasinghe, said as traditional friendly neighbours, China and Sri Lanka have maintained close contact at various levels and conducted fruitful cooperation.

He said friendship between the two peoples has been deepening.

China attaches great importance to its ties with Sri Lanka and stands ready to advance strategic partnership on the basis of mutual respect and treating each other as equals, so as to bring benefits to both peoples and achieve mutually beneficial and win-win outcomes, said the Chinese Premier.

Li's message today comes a day after President Xi Jinping's greetings to his Sri Lankan counterpart Maithripala Sirisena when he wished to take bilateral ties to a new high.

Xi said relations between China and Sri Lanka withstood the test of time, becoming a paradigm of friendly coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation between neighbours.

China and Sri Lanka have been expanding cooperation in various fields, bringing tangible interests to the two peoples, he said.

The messages followed apprehensions that China's influence in Sri Lanka acquired through massive investments during the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa regime may wear thin under the new political dispensation in Colombo.

The concerns arise from the statements of Sirisena and Wickramasinghe that the mega investments taken at high rates of interest deeply indebted Sri Lanka for generations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei allayed such concerns and said "the friendship between China and Sri Lanka runs deep."

"All the previous Sri Lankan administrations uphold a policy of amity with China."

He said: "We hope and believe that the new Sri Lankan government will continue with its support to the friendly cooperation with China and push forward relevant projects." 

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