Sri Lankan media agog over Xi's visit
Updated: 2014-09-16 09:51
COLOMBO - Sri Lanka's media have given significant coverage to the historic visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping with articles being penned on the topic of China-Sri Lanka relations.
Most, including vernacular media, opted to carry front page stories mentioning the impending visit of President Xi on their front pages, listing out the massive infrastructure development projects that have been built by Chinese funding since the end of a three-decade war in 2009.
Sri Lanka is the third leg of Xi's ongoing four-country Asia trip, which has already taken him to Tajikistan and the Maldives.
Another popular article was the interview given by Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Xinhua News Agency, in which he hailed Chinese President Xi Jinping's initiative of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, saying the economic corridor bears significance to the island's development.
The President said his country will join China's efforts in the maritime silk road trade cooperation, noting that President Xi's scheduled visit to Sri Lanka, which would be the first by a Chinese President over the past 28 years, is "important" for the development of the bilateral ties.
The two nations, since Sri Lanka ended the decade-long conflict in 2009, have effectively cooperated in re-construction and other sectors, he said.
Chinese enterprises have been carrying out a number of infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka and he praised them as having a positive impact on his country's social stability and prosperity.
English newspapers, such as the Daily News, The Island, Dailymirror, Ceylon Today and Daily FT, also ran preview articles about the proposed infrastructure agreements running into many billions of dollars that are to be signed between the two countries.
They also gave prominence to a special project conducted by the Chinese embassy to conduct 1,000 cataract operations on Sri Lankans to reciprocate 1,500 cornea donations by Sri Lankan locals to the Chinese patients.
In fact, a nine-year old Chinese boy who received such donation, met with the donor family last week as part of promotion of people-to-people engagement.
Local media also ran interviews of Sri Lankan Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena on the Free Trade Agreement currently under discussion between the two countries. Economic opportunities that could be gained by local exporters having greater access to China's vast market were also extrapolated.
Some even carried photos of Chinese funded projects such as a $1.2 billion coal power plant, which is to be opened by President Xi on Tuesday.
Weekend newspapers also dwelt extensively on China-Sri Lanka relations, highlighting the new agreements to be signed, which include a port city project expected to attract $15 billion in investment, a metro railway line to Colombo and the second phase of a port in the southern part of the country.
Articles detailing 21 agreements to be signed between the Sri Lankan government and Exim Bank of China amounting to $1.6 billion were also reported. China Development Bank will sign at least three projects during the visit, according to media report.