China vows to help Sri Lanka cope with economic difficulties as a response to Sri Lanka’s loan request: Chinese FM
Published: Jun 08, 2022 06:32 PM Updated: Jun 08, 2022 06:29 PM
Zhao Lijian Photo: VCG
Zhao Lijian Photo: VCG

China vows to play an active role in helping Sri Lanka cope with the economic difficulties and ease the burden of debts, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday in response to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remarks that China has not yet responded to Sri Lanka’s $1 billion loan request.

Sri Lanka could not tap a $1.5 billion credit line from China and it has yet to hear back on its request to China for a $1 billion loan to buy essential goods, Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in an interview on Monday, noting that South Asian countries in financial trouble aren’t getting the same attention from China as before as China appears to be shifting its strategic focus toward Southeast Asia and Africa.

Rajapaksa said China indicated to help Sri Lanka while adding that “usually they don’t like” lending out more money to cover earlier debt payments.

China has empathy for and has been closely following the difficulties and challenges that Sri Lanka, China’s traditional friendly neighbor, is facing, Zhao said in response, noting that China has been providing assistance within its capacity to Sri Lanka's economic and social development.

According to Zhao, China will provide 500 million yuan ($74.99 million) worth of emergency humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka. The first batch of medicines has already arrived in Sri Lanka and the first shipment of rice has already departed. China has also provided multiple batches and diversified livelihood assistance to the people from all walks of life.

In terms of the financial cooperation between the two nations, Chinese financial institutions took the initiative to negotiate with the Sri Lankan side to properly handle the maturing China-related bonds and debts as soon as the Sri Lankan government announced a moratorium on foreign debt payments, expressing China’s willingness to help Sri Lanka cope with the current difficulties, Zhao said.

China is ready to work with relevant countries, international organizations and financial institutions and will continue to play an active role in helping Sri Lanka tackle the current difficulties, easing its debt burdens and realizing sustainable development, Zhao said, noting that China is also confident that Sri Lanka would make independent efforts to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investment and financing partners, and maintain the stability and reputation of its domestic investment and financing environment.

China’s neighboring countries including South Asian countries are the priority of China's diplomacy, thus China attaches great importance to and spares no effort in consolidating and developing friendly relations with its neighboring countries.

China has always been standing firm with South Asian countries and help each other to overcome difficulties, be it natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis, or other global challenges such as financial crises and COVID-19, Zhao said.

China will work with relevant countries to tackle risks and challenges, pursue a high-quality Belt and Road initiative, maintain the sound momentum with security, stability, cooperation and development in the region, and grant more benefits to the people of the region.

Global Times