Photo taken on April 19, 2018 shows the construction site of Colombo Port City in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Xinhua/CHEC)
by Jamila Najmuddin
COLOMBO, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka looks forward to benefiting more from the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and is ready to welcome more Chinese investment into the country, Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga said.
In an interview with Xinhua on Tuesday, Amaratunga said Sri Lanka and China shared strong relations and Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to pledge support for the Belt and Road Initiative.
"To start with, Sri Lanka is fully supportive of the Belt and Road Initiative of China. We have no debate on that. We look forward to benefiting more from this policy that China has adopted," Amaratunga said.
"We hope more investments will come into Sri Lanka from China. There are a lot of Chinese companies who are looking to invest here, particularly in the tourism industry. We will gladly welcome all of them and give them all the support and assistance to start their projects here which will help our economy," Amaratunga said.
A key project of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Colombo Port City being constructed close to the Colombo Harbor by the China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. (CHEC), has generated employment to hundreds of locals and will attract millions of dollars in investments.
According to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Port City will transform Sri Lanka's capital Colombo into a financial and trading hub.
Amaratunga said a joint venture between Sri Lanka and China to develop the Hambantota Port in southern Sri Lanka had also brought in many benefits to the local economy, boosting Sri Lanka's image as a maritime hub and lifting the livelihood of many locals.
"We have received much assistance from China for the development of these projects and they are now in the process of being further developed," said the minister.
"Besides that there are so many other areas in which China has helped us. For example in irrigation, road development and other infrastructural development. We warmly welcome all these projects and we are grateful to the Chinese government and its people for the assistance they are rendering to Sri Lanka for its development," he added.
Amaratunga said Sri Lanka looks forward to submitting new proposals at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which will be held in China next month.
"We look forward to engaging more with the Chinese government under the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative)," Amaratunga said.