China’s plan to build Maritime Silk Road…

The MSR was expected to benefit Sri Lanka which has developed two of its ports – Habanthota and Colombo.

Sri Lanka has become the first country to back China’s plan to build a Maritime Silk Road, which Chinese officials said is a novel idea to improve maritime connectivity and common development.

“Sri Lankan side has expressed their willingness to work with China to build such a silk road and will enhance cooperation with China in this connection,” Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters today while briefing on the just concluded visit of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G L Peiris.

Elaborating on the Maritime Silk Road (MSR), Hua said: “This initiative is just an idea for cooperation. It is an open ended platform. The purpose is to integrate all kinds of ongoing cooperation especially cooperation on connectivity in the spirit of (ancient) silk road so that they can connect with each other and promote each other and accelerate regional countries’ common development.

“In this end, China adopts an open attitude. We also hope to see good suggestions from other countries so as to substantiate this idea.”

The MSR was expected to benefit Sri Lanka which has developed two of its ports – Habanthota and Colombo – with substantial assistance from Beijing, raising hackles in India over China’s growing influence in New Delhi’s backyard.

According to Hua, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had raised the MSR issue during his talks with Peiris and said: “Under the new conditions, we should follow the spirit of peace, friendship, cooperation and development and work together with relevant countries to carry out maritime interconnectivity, disaster prevention and mitigation and people to people exchanges.”

The new initiative will achieve common prosperity and development and win-win cooperation, Wang told Peiris stating that “our two countries can discuss how to carry out maritime connectivity, marine economy, fisheries, disaster prevention and mitigation as well as maritime rescue assistance.

The MSR was mooted last year with countries of Southeast Asia by President Xi Jinping during his visit to Indonesia and Malaysia where he stated that the MSR would help turn the “Golden Decade” between China and Southeast Asian Countries into “Diamond Decade”.