China’s President Xi Jinping will this year become the first Chinese head of state to visit Sri Lanka in three decades, underlining Beijing’s renewed push to deepen its strategic and economic presence in the neighbourhood and in the Indian Ocean.
The Hindu newspaper reported that Xi’s visit was discussed in Beijing this week as Sri Lankan Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, as the President’s Special Envoy, met with the Chinese leadership.
The Chinese leader will become the first President to visit Sri Lanka since former leader Li Xiannian in 1986.
For Chinese President Xi, Sri Lanka has become a particularly important country as a crucial point on his government’s signature “maritime silk road” economic initiative, which the President unveiled in October in a bid to boost maritime connectivity and economic ties in the neighbourhood.
Xi is also expected to visit India later this year.