Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) amid a push to recalibrate his predecessor’s strongly pro-China policies and a review of major Chinese projects in the island nation.
Sirisena and Xi reaffirmed long-standing ties between their nations at the start of their meeting at China’s Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The talks opened Sirisena’s first visit to the Asian giant since taking office in January and follow his recent trip to neighbor and Chinese rival, India.
In opening remarks, Xi said China considers Sri Lanka a strategic partner and wants to “again promote and elevate the China-Sri Lanka relationship to fulfill an important purpose.”
“China has always placed Sri Lanka in an important diplomatic position in region,” Xi said before reporters were ushered from the room.
The two also discussed a US$1.5 billion China-funded port city project in Colombo which Sirisena’s government suspended pending scrutiny of environment impacts and alleged corruption, Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Jianchao (劉建超) told reporters after the meeting.
Both sides said they continued to back the project, but any specific changes to it would have to be worked out by the companies involved, Liu said.
Sirisena’s administration has ordered reviews of all China-funded projects.
Liu said Xi advocated further Chinese investment in Sri Lanka, including projects funded by Beijing’s proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
The two presided over the signing of agreements on health care, construction and urban development.
Sirisena’s surprise election presented a diplomatic challenge to Beijing as it seeks to expand its political and economic influence in the Indian Ocean region.
China enjoyed close ties with his former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, under whom a raft of Chinese-backed projects sailed through the approval process with few questions.
China was a trusted supplier of weapons in Rajapaksa’s crushing of ethnic Tamil separatists and backed Sri Lanka against allegations at the UN of human rights abuses in the civil war.
In his visit last year, Xi won support from Sri Lanka and Maldives for a new maritime “Silk Road,” seen as a way of encircling India and controlling port access along sea lanes linking the energy-rich Persian Gulf and economic centers in eastern China.
In contrast, Sirisena wants to balance Sri Lanka’s China ties against those with India and chose New Delhi for his first official visit.
This month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian leader to visit Sri Lanka in 28 years.
The massive Colombo port project, backed by the major Chinese state-owned company China Communications Construction Co, has become a particular concern for India. That is largely due to recent visits to Sri Lanka by Chinese People’s Liberation Army navy ships and submarines, and the possibility that China could own outright part of the artificial land on which the development is to be built.
On the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: Fill up a thermos with whiskey, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink liters of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time, and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone. “Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” one commenter wrote. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.” Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for
DELIVERING HOPE: The Japanese PM pledged to push ahead with plans to stage the Games, despite polls showing about 80% think they will not or should not happen Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday vowed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympic Games this summer with ample protection. In a speech opening a new session of parliament, Suga said that his government would revise laws to make disease prevention measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing, and for people to stay at home, but recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes
‘STUNNED’: With help from an official at the US Department of Justice, Donald Trump reportedly planned to oust the acting attorney general in a bid to overturn the election Former US president Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while US President Joe Biden settled into the White House, but in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks. In yet another earth-shaking report, the New York Times said that Trump plotted with an official at the US Department of Justice to fire the acting attorney general, then force Georgia Republicans to overturn his defeat in that state. Meanwhile, former acting US secretary of defense Christopher Miller made an extraordinary admission, telling Vanity Fair that