Chinese Vice PM here with big loans

A top level 30-member Chinese delegation headed by Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang is scheduled to arrive here on Thursday for a three-day official visit. Officials said the Chinese Vice Premier and the delegation would inspect the progress of Chinese-aided projects and meet government leaders.

They said China would give Sri Lanka a loan of US$ 200 million to build a second international airport in the south and US$ 100 million to upgrade the country’s railway network.

These would be included in a fresh loan agreement to be finalized during Mr. Zhang’s visit.China was the largest foreign funding source for Sri Lanka last year with $1.2 billion followed by the Asian Development Bank with $424 million. China is pouring money into Sri Lanka, which some political analysts see as an attempt to undermine Indian influence in the region.

The officials said the Chinese delegation would also explore trade and investment opportunities in Sri Lanka while strengthening bilateral political ties.

During his visit, Mr. Zhang will hold talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister D.M Jayaratne, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and other government leaders.

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