Sri Lanka accepts $295m Chinese ‘gift’

24 Jul 18

Sri Lanka’s president will accept an unconditional $295m “gift” to his country from China despite having formerly suspended Chinese-backed projects over corruption fears.

Maithripala Sirisena, the president of Sri Lanka, made the announcement on Saturday at a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of a Chinese-funded kidney hospital in Polonnaruwa.

Sirisena said: “When the Chinese ambassador visited my house to fix the date for this ceremony, he said that Chinese President Xi Jinping sent me another gift.

“He has gifted 2bn yuan to be utilised for any project of my wish. I am going to hand over a proposal to the Chinese ambassador to build houses in all the electorates in the country.”

At the beginning of his term in 2015, Sirisena suspended most of the Chinese-backed infrastructure projects started under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa over suspected corruption, Reuters reported.

But more than a year later, his government allowed the projects to resume after a few changes.

The latest Chinese grant will help the country to increase its influence on the island. China was one of the first countries to help in the reconstruction of Sri Lanka after a 26-year civil war, which ended in 2009.

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