Sri Lanka’s ambassador to China slammed “the imperial powers of the West” for exploiting “occupied countries” in an exclusive interview to China’s state news agency Xinhua this week, as Colombo looks to build stronger relations with Beijing.
The Sri Lankan ambassador to China, Dr Karunasena Kodituwakku described China’s ‘belt and road’ initiative as something Sri Lankans ‘admire…[and] must support’. The initiative is part of a series of projects that China has undertaken on the island, including the Port City project in the southern capital of Colombo.
Acknowledging the growing influence of Beijing on the island, Dr Kodituwakku said that “now China has become the most important development partner for us in investment, foreign trade, and tourism and even in the field of technology transfer”.
His interview comes as Sri Lanka looks to negotiate a free-trade agreement with China. China has continued to provide loans for large scale investment projects to Sri Lanka. Last year, the United States expressed concerned over Sri Lanka's "unsustainable debt burden" from China's non-concessional loans.
China’s involvement though, has seen fierce protests by locals in the south with several injured last year regarding the proposed eviction of thousands of villagers from a planned Chinese development of a port in Hambantota.
Beijing has held close relations with Sri Lanka, involving itself with several investment projects and supporting the government at international fora, including the United Nations.