Beijing closely monitoring situation – Envoy

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Beijing is closely monitoring the evolving situation in Sri Lanka, Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong told Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor G.L. Peiris in the backdrop of the prevailing financial crisis and unrest in the country.

When they met yesterday (21) the Chinese Envoy assured that the Chinese government would continue extending assistance to Sri Lanka in every possible way including direct Chinese government support, regional government support and support through the Red Cross Society of China.

The China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) has pledged urgent emergency humanitarian aid of RMB 200 million to Sri Lanka, including 5,000 tonnes of rice (with the previously announced 2,000 tonnes), pharmaceuticals, production materials and other essentials. Furthermore, the Yunnan Province has announced a donation of RMB 1.5 million worth food packages to Sri Lanka.

The Foreign Minister extended Sri Lanka’s profound gratitude to the Government of China for the unwavering and consistent support. The discussions also focused on people to people exchanges, support at the multilateral fora, poverty alleviation, among others.

Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and officials of the Chinese Embassy were present during the meeting.

The Foreign Minister also apprised the Ambassador of the present situation in the country and the shortage of energy which has adversely affected the economy. He briefed the Ambassador on the measures which are being put in place by the Government to immediately overcome the prevailing situation, including the ongoing discussion with the IMF for financial assistance as well as restructuring Sri Lanka’s debt and in that context Minister Peiris requested further assistance from China, particularly in bridge financing during difficult times.

While welcoming the Ambassador, Minister Peiris appreciated China’s continued assistance to Sri Lanka which had begun even before establishing formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. He also recalled the Chinese monuments erected in Sri Lanka.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan