After his current visit to India, new Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will visit China next month for talks with the top leadership here as his government tries to rebalance ties with Beijing while addressing Indian concerns over strategic Chinese projects.
Sirisena will arrive in China on March 26 to attend the annual Boao Forum for Asia, Liu Jianchao, Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister told media here today at a Lunar New Year reception held by the Chinese foreign ministry.
Liu said besides attending the forum, Sirisena will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Xi is due to inaugurate the forum, a prestigious Chinese think tank, modelled on the ‘Summer Davos’ meet here.
Sirisena’s China visit is expected to take place right after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Colombo marking a significant milestone of two major visits between New Delhi and Colombo within just over a month.
Ahead of Sirisena’s visit, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera is scheduled to visit Beijing on February 27-28 to make preparations for the president’s visit, Liu said while expressing confidence that the new government would continue with the Chinese infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka including the USD 1.5 billion Port City over which it has expressed reservations earlier.
Liu was China’s first official to have visited Colombo after Sirisena took power last month replacing the Beijing-friendly government Mahinda Rajapaksa and interacted closely with the new president and other top officials.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe told Parliament that several committees reviewed the Chinese projects including the Colombo port project and a decision will be taken after their reports are submitted.
Liu said the projects were in the interest of the Sri Lankan people aimed at creating new jobs and economic development.
Colombo Port City project was regarded as key for China’s new mega Maritime Silk Road project which the Rajapaksa government had endorsed.