Beijing: Sri Lanka has backed China's surprise initiative to make India an important component of a regional cooperation to address New Delhi's concerns over Chinese involvement in large-scale projects in the country, a senior Sri Lankan minister has said.
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said Chinese President Xi Jinping surprised his Sri Lankan counterpart Maithripala Sirisena during their recent meeting with the proposal.
“Xi said why don't we get India to work with us, which was seized upon by President Sirisena, who said that would be the best possible outcome. Both presidents agreed that India should be part of the equation,” Karunanayake told Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
Chinese officials said as part of China-India cooperation in South Asian, Beijing is holding discussions with New Delhi.
After the defeat of former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa in January polls, China mooted the trilateral cooperation among the three countries.India is apprehensive about the China-backed Maritime Silk Road (MSR) initiative, and its implications for India's security.
It is also sensitive to China's growing engagement in its neighbourhood, especially after two Chinese submarines were allowed to dock in Colombo last year by Rajapaksa.
Karunanayake, who was part of the Sri Lankan delegation to China, said the Chinese company involved in the controversial USD 1.5-billion Colombo Port City project has failed to produce necessary documents to run it within the two-week deadline set by the new government.
He said the state-owned China Communications Construction Co (CCCC) did not have the requisite clearances, such as environmental licence, from the government.
“They run full-page advertisements in newspapers justifying their actions, but when we tell them to submit documents, they draw a blank,” Karunanayake said.President Sirisena's new government suspended the 233-hectare land-reclamation project this month alleging large-scale irregularities.