(UDHAYAM, COLOMBO) – China has not funded any ‘white elephant’ projects in Sri Lanka and is ready to help the island country develop further, China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yi Xianliang said.
Speaking at a ceremony in Sri Lanka’s southern Hambantota town, Yi said that Hambantota had the potential to be like Singapore or Dubai in the coming 20 years.
Maintaining that China had no intention of interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs, Yi said Chinese business were ready to invest in Sri Lanka and thanked the local people for its corporation with the business delegations.
Speaking on the Hambantota economic zone which is funded by China, Yi said the economic zone was not a ‘Chinese zone’ as the zone belonged solely to the Hambantota people and the Sri Lankan people.
“Business people come here to help Sri Lanka to develop this region, to make money for you and with you,” Yi said.
“We appreciate the corporation of the local people with the business delegations from China and other countries.”
Commenting on the land issue over the economic zone, Yi said China had no intention to move people from their lands and schools. “At first stage we will try our best to use lands from the government. But I must stress if you want to develop, then land is an important factor.”
“This land belongs to you, the Sri Lakan people. Lands are being taken on a 99 year lease. Of course it is in your own hands. We respect your decision.”
Yi said Sri Lanka and China shared a very close friendship and China also shared a very close relationship with Hambantota. “Last year, over 270,000 Chinese people arrived in Sri Lanka. Almost one fifth came to Hambantota, which means almost 100,000 Chinese people visited Hambantota last year. They are business people, cultural people,” Yi said.