Chinese Ambassador to Colombo Yi Xianliang yesterday said that many had asked him whether they (the Chinese) were crazy after the Chinese company, which constructed the Hambantota Port, had initially spent more than a billion dollars and later pumped in a further US$ 1.5 billion.
He said that many asked him why the Chinese were spending on the…… same Port again and even if they had to do so, they could have spent only US$ 600 million, to which he had responded that he was not the person making the decision but it was a business issue between the China Merchant and the Ports Authority of Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Xianliang, addressing the China-Sri Lanka Infrastructure Investment Cooperation Forum at the Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo yesterday, also urged Sri Lanka to use Chinese currency RMB, rather than the Dollar in its bilateral trade with Sri Lanka, a press release from the Minister of Industry and Commerce said yesterday.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested to Lankan leaders to use our currency, the Chinese RMB, in trade and cooperation between China and Sri Lanka –like done by many other countries such as Vietnam.”
The Chinese Ambassador also had reiterated that the Hambantota Port agreement of last week was not a ‘strategic move’ on Chinese side as some see it but only a win-win business proposition with Sri Lanka for a bigger trade engagement in the future.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed with Sri Lankan leaders, when they visited China in 2015 and 2016, about industrialization of Sri Lanka. It is quite clear President Xi Jinping would like to assist Lanka to set up a basic industry system. This is quite important for you here, the (members of) construction industry too. What should we do to finalize the suggestions in the agreements of our leaders? Infrastructure is important for development. Yes, it’s easy to talk about infrastructure. But how about the money?” he noted.
“Sri Lanka continued its payments to China and never failed to pay back what it had to pay. Therefore this is a country and people that we can trust.
Therefore I don’t have any worries about Sri Lanka’s financial prospects. International community, particularly the Chinese Government and Chinese people wish to see Sri Lanka continuing with its development.
“You should have industrial zones because your land is limited. You should assemble all industries to one or two zones with support of serious policy and logistics.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he wishes to see multiple industrial zones, then I suggested to him to create one or two large industrial zones and assemble all industries in these so that it also solves many issues such as industry logistics etc.
I said I can help him with one industrial zone in Hambantota which is a win-win for both sides.