President Maithripala Sirisena is struggling to contain popular opposition to land acquisition for a huge Chinese industrial zone next to Hambantota port in southern Sri Lanka.
In 2015, Sirisena’s newly-elected government order a review of the US$1.4 billion Colombo port city project, which also has Chinese investment. Both projects are key parts of China’s new Silk Road plan.
Li told Wickremesinghe, in Beijing for a summit on the new Silk Road, that relations were good and cooperation steadily progressing, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement late Tuesday.
China “hopes the Sri Lankan side can great a good legal, policy, security and public opinion environment for this,” Li added.
The meeting of the two leaders took place at the Great hall of China in Beijing today. The maintenance of Sino-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations complete 60 years this year. The Rubber Pact between the two countries complete 65 years.
Adding to the uncertainly about relations, last week Sri Lanka rejected a request from China to dock one of its submarines in Colombo this month.
China has invested heavily in Sri Lanka in recent years, funding airports, roads, railways and ports, unsettling India, traditionally the closest economic partner of the island nation of 21 million people.
China had pledged yuan 2 billion (US$ 290 million) aid to Sri Lanka development projects for the period of 2018 -2020. Chinese President Xi Jinping had disclosed this to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe when the latter called on him in Beijing on 16th May. He told the visiting Premier that China will extend its fullest support for Sri Lankan’s national amity, reconciliation and economic development.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)