China is willing to play an active role in helping Sri Lanka deal with its debt burden along with other countries and international organizations, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference on Wednesday.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently said in an interview that, “China appears to be shifting its strategic focus toward Southeast Asia and Africa, noting that South Asian countries in financial trouble aren’t getting the same attention from Beijing as before.”
In a response to the Sri Lankan president’s remarks, Zhao said that after the Sri Lankan government announced the suspension of foreign debt repayment, Chinese financial institutions took the initiative to consult with the Sri Lankan side and expressed their willingness to properly handle maturing China-related bonds and debts and help Sri Lanka cope with the current difficulties.
China calls for Sri Lanka to safeguard the legitimate rights of foreign investment partners and ensure the stable operation of its domestic market, he added.
Noting that China is a traditional friendly neighbor to Sri Lanka, he said that the country has been closely following the difficulties and challenges facing Sri Lanka and has been helping Sri Lanka’s economic and social development within its capacity.
China has provided several batches of relief to the Sri Lankan people, including 500 million yuan (around $74.9 million) in humanitarian aid, he said.
China attaches great importance to developing good-neighborly relations with South Asian nations, the spokesperson added.
History shows that China has always stood firmly with South Asian countries in the face of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as global challenges such as the financial crisis and COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Under the current circumstances, China will work with relevant countries to tackle risks and challenges, jointly build the Belt and Road with high quality, maintain the sound momentum of security, stability, cooperation and development in the region, and bring more benefits to the people of the region, he added.
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka
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