Sri Lanka's Tamil party supports President Wickremesinghe's call to form national government
Sri Lanka's new president Ranil Wickremesinghe

Colombo: Sri Lanka is firmly committed to the ‘one-China’ policy, President Ranil Wickremesinghe reaffirmed on Thursday, a day after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan despite vociferous protests from Beijing.

Pelosi held talks with Taiwan’s top leadership, including President Tsai Ing-wen, on Wednesday and reaffirmed America’s ironclad support for the self-ruling island.

Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking American official in 25 years to visit the island claimed by China, which quickly announced that it would conduct military drills close to Taiwan in retaliation for her presence in Taipei.

“During a meeting with H.E. Qi Zhenhong, China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka reiterated Sri Lanka’s firm commitment to the One China policy as well as to the UN charter principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations,” the president of the crisis-hit country said in a tweet on Thursday.

Countries must refrain from provocations which further escalate the current global tensions, Wickremesinghe said during his meeting with Qi on Wednesday.

“Mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of countries were important foundations for peaceful cooperation and non-confrontation,” he said.

China’s foreign ministry has reiterated that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the country’s territory.

Sri Lanka, which is facing the worst economic crisis in the history of its independence since 1948, has a huge debt to repay to China, whose high-cost infrastructure projects are widely blamed for the island nation’s bankrupt condition.

The Chinese unwillingness to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt has placed obstacles to the IMF bail-out package much needed by the debt-ridden country in its hour of crisis.

China has denied that Sri Lanka had been clamped in a Chinese debt trap by funding the high-end infrastructure projects in the southern district of Hambantota — its seaport and the airport dubbed the world’s quietest with hardly any flight movements.

Wickremesinghe’s predecessors, the Rajapaksa brothers, borrowed from China to fund the infrastructure in their home district.

Wickremesinghe as the prime minister in 2017 entered a 99-year lease on the industrial park around the port with China drawing sharp criticism from locals.

The country is now scrambling for much-needed foreign currency to fulfil basic necessities such as food, fuel and essential medicines.

Sri Lanka has seen months of mass unrest over the worst economic crisis, with the government declaring bankruptcy in mid-April by refusing to honour its international debt. The country’s total debt stands at USD USD 51 billion.

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