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Sri Lanka-China nexus supreme: Chinese-funded highway opens to receive Commonwealth leaders

Colombo,Oct 30 () : Sri Lanka-China nexus is becoming all the more powerful and supreme. Both the countries are set on cementing their ties through a slew of measures on various fronts.

The Chinese-funded and the island nation’s second highway, the 25.6 km Colombo-Katunayake Expressway  (292 million US dollars) was unveiled by Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday,October 27.

The highway will be used by leaders of 53 Commonwealth nations when they arrive to take part in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) hosted by Sri Lanka next month.

Mahinda Rajapaksa at the inaugural acknowledged the massive development that has been made in  war-ravaged Sri Lanka, mostly through Chinese funding.

Rajapaksa felt confident about Sri Lanka’s growth path, by and large powered by China and appreciated China’s fulfillment of the much-needed and decades’ old requirement of the island nation.

Incidentally, Sri Lanka’s first highway, the Southern Expressway declared open in 2011 was also funded by China, among a few others.

Another major infrastructure project funded by China is a 272-million USD railway project, that was kick-started on Monday,October 28.

Speaker of Parliament  and President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother Chamal Rajapaksa,  thanked the Chinese government for undertaking such large-scale infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. He also remarked that it was a dream project of his father for decades but has seen its reality by his brother-president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Running to a total length of 26.75 kilometres, this  three-phased railway project is the first phase of the Southern railway which is scheduled for completion in 2016, funded by the Export-Import Bank of China.

China through this project ventures into rail projects in the island nation. Chamal Rajapaksa stated that this project will further strengthen the bi-lateral relations and the economic and trade coöperation between China and Sri Lanka.

Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), the main venue for the November CHOGM summit was built by China in the 1970s as a gift to the then government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike in memory of late Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. BMICH  has undergone a complete floor-ceiling makeover  at a cost of over Rs. 2 billion, funded by China.

China has emerged as the island nation’s largest funding nation  with 1.2 billion USD in loans in 2009 and 821 million USD in 2010, since Sri Lanka ended the civil war in 2009.

Though the Chinese funding dipped to  784.7 million USD in 2011, China always remained in the fray, lending a hand in almost all the large-scale projects taking shape in Sri Lanka.

Over $6 billion worth of projects, including airports and sea ports, highways, coal and hydro power plants and railways in  Sri Lanka, mainly to be funded by Chinese loans are reportedly in the pipeline.

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