China is paying high attention to strengthening strategic ties with Sri Lanka, Xi Jinping said. Sending out a congratulatory message to Sri Lanka on its 70th anniversary of independence, Jinping said that China is willing to work with it for better development of strategic cooperative partnership.
I pay high attention to the development of China-Sri Lanka relations, and I am willing to make concerted efforts with President Sirisena to push the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership of sincere mutual assistance and long-standing friendship to keep achieving greater development in the better interest of the two countries and its people," he said.
He also said that China and Sri Lanka have achieved "fruitful results" by their display of "pragmatic cooperation" within the framework of the joint construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR).
India has expressed reservations over MSR as it has security implications for it in Indian Ocean. MSR is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Proposed by China in 2013, the BRI aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa based on ancient land and maritime trade routes enhancing China's global influence.
China has invested over USD eight billion in Sri Lanka over the years for various projects, including Hambantota port which it acquired on 99 years lease as a debt swap. It is also building the Colombo port city project, where Sri Lanka plans to establish an international financial city.