China signs 16 new agreements with Lanka

Beijing: Sixteen agreements have been signed during the current visit of Chinese leader Wu Bangguo to Colombo, mostly focusing on infrastructure development in Sri Lanka including USD 760 million aid to help the island nation to become “Asia’s miracle”.

The agreements signed yesterday ranged from visa exemption and marine development to economic and technology cooperation with expanded investment and increase imports from Sri Lanka, official media here reported.

Wu, a second ranking Communist Party leader after President Hu Jintao is the highest Chinese official to visit Colombo after the end of ethnic war between Sri Lankan army and LTTE.

Prior to his visit, the Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie visited Colombo while on his way to New Delhi this month. Chinese officials said the expanded cooperation demonstrates deepened political trust, and will help make Sri Lanka a “Asia’s miracle” in terms of economic growth, state-run China Daily reported.

The agreements included exemption of holders of diplomatic and service passports of each other countries from visa requirements. Cooperation on marine development and management, and economic and technological cooperation, will be boosted, it said.

Other agreements include favourable loans offered by Chinese banks to some major infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka and cooperation on telecommunication and railway system renovation.

No details of these agreements have been revealed, the Daily said.