21 Nov 2023 CW Team
In a press statement released by Wickremesinghe’s office, State Councillor Shen Yiqin, the Special Envoy of the Chinese President, mentioned that China is giving priority to extending the Corridor to the island nation. The statement also highlighted that both parties agreed to hasten the implementation of the China-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement.
The CMEC, which is the newest among the six land corridors under the BRI, has gained significance, replacing the stalled Bangladesh China India Myanmar (BCIM) corridor. Notably, India and Bhutan are the only South Asian countries abstaining from participation in the BRI and China’s more recent Global Development Initiative, which Sri Lanka has endorsed. President Wickremesinghe pointed out that countries like Sri Lanka, actively involved in the BRI, are ready to embark on the second phase of the initiative, anticipating a more substantial economic contribution.
Shen’s visit to Sri Lanka follows her participation in President Mohamed Muizzu’s inaugural ceremony in the neighboring Maldives on November 17. This visit comes a month after President Wickremesinghe met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, during the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. In a joint statement issued by the two governments at that time, Sri Lanka reiterated its commitment to “actively participate” in the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China.