Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said recently that China respected Sri Lanka when it went to China and sought funds, and the Chinese never forced Sri Lanka to accept money. He said that China also provided Sri Lanka with some financial facilities and credit lines, as well as some humanitarian assistance, and that the “debt trap” is a Western phrase. He also said that China has been Sri Lanka’s close friend, and this year the two countries celebrated 70 years of economic ties, beginning with the Rubber-Rice Pact. What is China’s comment?
Zhao Lijian: We welcome Foreign Minister Ali Sabry’s remarks. This is a strong rebuttal to the narrative about the so-called Chinese “debt trap” in Sri Lanka. I would like to reiterate that China’s assistance to Sri Lanka is never attached with any political strings, and we never seek any selfish political gains in China’s investment and financing in Sri Lanka. China fully relates to the difficulties and challenges faced by Sri Lanka and supports relevant financial institutions in discussing and properly resolving them. We have all along provided support to Sri Lanka’s socioeconomic development as long as our ability permits.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations, and the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact. It is of great significance of building on past achievements and working for fresh progress. China will work with Sri Lanka to carry forward the traditional friendship, cement strategic mutual trust, deepen and expand practical cooperation, and consolidate and expand China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership to better deliver benefits to the two countries and the two peoples.