‘Sri Lanka’s ties with China no threat to India’

Colombo, Dec 29: Sri Lanka’s ruling party has said that the country’s cooperation with China should not be viewed by India as a threat to the South Asian region.

According to Rohitha Bogollagama, a member of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and Sri Lanka’s former foreign minister, the island nation maintains a special relationship with China similar to the ties it shares with India, Xinhua reprotd.

Over the past few years, India has expressed concerns of China’s growing presence in Sri Lanka after China invested in several key projects in Sri Lanka.

Last month, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that his government turned to China for assistance in some projects after India had refused to get involved.

Bogollagama, who was the foreign minister during the final stages of the war between Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels and the Sri Lankan military in 2009, said China offered unconditional support to the government at that time.

‘They also supported us in the international arena. The Chinese also assisted the economic drive of President Mahinda Rajapaksa without placing conditions during and after the war.’

China was involved in the construction of a massive sea port in the southern part of the country and is also building what would be Sri Lanka’s second international airport.

The Chinese also assisted in the construction of Sri Lanka’s first coal power plant and is involved in several highway projects.

As for Sri Lanka’s relationship with India, Bogollagama said that both have a strong traditional and cultural relationship.

‘Our relationship with India is unique and cannot be replaced. India also supported us during the fight against terrorism,’ he said.

‘We are also benefiting from the economic partnerships with India. There are thousands of tourist visiting Sri Lanka from India as well.’

India, however, has been vocal about human rights concerns in Sri Lanka.

IANS