COLOMBO, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lankan International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema on Wednesday said the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative would raise the living standard of the people in the country.
Speaking at a symposium titled "From Millennium to the New Era: Jointly Build the Belt and Road and Embrace the Sri Lankan Dream," Samarawickrema said that Sri Lanka and China had shared strong relations since ancient times, and China had assisted Sri Lanka even in its rough times.
Samarawickrema said that China had greatly contributed to developing Sri Lanka's economy, especially since the end of the country's 30-year civil conflict, and it had launched projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, which would transform Sri Lanka into an international hub in the region.
"China is sincerely looking to improve the economy of Sri Lanka and with their assistance I have no doubt Sri Lanka will be a better country in the near future," the minister said.
Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Cheng Xueyuan said, "We would like to work with our Sri Lankan friends ... to boost the economic development of the island nation for the early harvest of joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and to bring tangible benefits to our two countries and peoples."
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.