Sri Lanka, China hold bilateral consultation in Beijing; policies to be reviewed

Annual bilateral political consultation meeting between top officials of Sri Lanka and China will be held in Beijing next week with the review of some bilateral policies , Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said.

“Secretary, Foreign Affairs, Aruni Wijewardana will lead Sri Lanka’s delegation to the 13th round of Diplomatic Consultations with the People’s Republic of China to be held on 17 June 2024 in Beijing,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

She will co-chair the Consultations with Sun Weidong, the vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, .

“The discussions are expected to review progress in the areas of bilateral engagement including on political, economic, trade, investment and defence.”

“Sri Lanka’s delegation to the Consultations will include the Ambassador- Designate in Beijing Majintha Jayesinghe, and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs including Acting Director General for East Asia Division Poshitha Perera and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in China.

“It is an annual event. Basically some review on the bilateral policies will take place,” Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told EconomyNext.

This year’s consultation meeting comes after a milk hiccup in diplomatic relations between the both countries after Sri Lanka banned Chinese research vessels calling the island nation for research purposes for one year.

The ban came after strong protest by India, which had cited security threats from such research ships, Sri Lanka government officials have said.

Sri Lanka is a key partner in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), known in China as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) and sometimes referred to as the New Silk Road, a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organizations.

The BRI is composed of six urban development land corridors linked by road, rail, energy, and digital infrastructure and the Maritime Silk Road linked by the development of ports.

Diplomatic analysts say China has been on a lower profile in Sri Lanka for the last two years unlike in the past.

However, the world’s second largest economy has been able to win Sinopec refinery in the island nation’s Southern port district of Hambantota and Sinopec fuel service stations island wide within the last two months.