Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa on Tuesday (31) told the Speaker of the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China, Li Zhanshu, that Sri Lanka was ready to facilitate the establishment of the regional headquarters of the China Development Bank in the vicinity of the Colombo Port City.
Rajapaksa also asked Zhanshu to help facilitate a USD 1.5 billion fiscal transfer between the two Central Banks to overcome the current economic challenge. This transfer had been delayed due to some technicalities, he said. The Minister also called for expanded access to industries such as garments, tea and gems to enter the Chinese market under the Sri Lanka-China Free Trade Agreement.
Earlier the Speaker of the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China assured his Sri Lankan counterpart, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena that the Chinese government would help Sri Lanka overcome the challenges posed by the economic downturn and COVID-19.
Zhanshu made this statement at the first diplomatic meeting between the high-profile delegation of the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China and the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
Deputy Speaker Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, Leader of the House and Minister of Education, Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. G.L Peiris, Minister of Youth & Sports Namal Rajapaksa, State Minister of Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya, Secretary-General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake and Prof. Rohan Gunaratna represented Sri Lanka.
The Speaker sought the assistance of the Government of China in overcoming the economic challenges posed by the current COVID situation. Zhanshu assured full support.
Speaker Abeywardena highlighted that the Sri Lanka – China bilateral relations have grown from strength to strength since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 1957. He also thanked China for the unwavering support Sri Lanka had received to protect its sovereignty, promotion of economic prosperity, and in the sphere of international diplomacy.
China has donated 3 million vaccines and supplied 18 million in total, which has been instrumental in the vaccination drive Sri Lanka has undertaken.
Speaker Abeywardena also invited Chinese MPs to visit Sri Lanka. The Speaker of China said that they would visit Sri Lanka as soon as the COVID situation is resolved.
Meanwhile the Speaker of the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China said China would provide investment facilities for other investments, including the Colombo Port City Project. He assured that as Sri Lanka was a close friend of China, he would extend his fullest support to the Sri Lankan economy. Zhanshu said that once the COVID situation had settled the two countries could exchange delegations to facilitate those processes.
Yang Zhenwu, Secretary General of the NPC Standing Committee, Li Fei, Chairman of the NPC Constitution and Law Committee. Chairman of the NPC China-Sri Lanka Friendship Group, Zhang Yesui, Chairman of the NPC Foreign Affairs Committee, Hu Xiaoli, Deputy Secretary General of the NPC Standing Committee, Song Rui, Director of the Research Office of the General Office of the NPC Standing Committee, Wu Jianghao, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs (former Ambassador of China to Sri Lanka) represented China during the discussion.