Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie arrived in Colombo on Wednesday on a five-day visit aimed at solidifying military ties that have grown increasingly close following the end of the war in Sri Lanka.
General Liang’s trip comes amid reports that China will pledge US$ 100 million to help take forward Sri Lankan Army projects in the war-ravaged north and northeast.
During his five-day visit, General Liang and his 25-member delegation are scheduled to visit a number of military facilities in the north.
He is expected to give a lecture at the Defence Services Command and Staff College at Sapugaskanda, as well as visit an Army Cantonment in Panagoda and the Defence Services College in Colombo, for which China has provided some financial assistance.
He will also meet with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. On arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport on Wednesday morning, General Liang was greeted by the Commander of the Sri Lankan Army, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral DWAS Dissanayake and Commander of the Air Force Air Marshal HD Abeywickrama, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
In June, Sri Lanka and China pledged to deepen defence ties when Lieutenant General Jayasuriya visited Beijing. China’s substantial military assistance to the Sri Lankan government during the closing stages of the war in 2009 has been seen by Sri Lankan officials as crucial to their victory over the LTTE – a point stressed by every visiting Sri Lankan official to Beijing in recent months. General Liang said then that China was “willing to make joint efforts with Sri Lanka to boost bilateral relations".
China has also reiterated its support to Sri Lanka against persistent international pressure over its reconciliation process, with Chinese officials stressing that it was their view that Sri Lanka should address its internal issues without international interference. China has assured Sri Lanka, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, of its continued support against any international pressure.
Following his visit, General Liang will travel to New Delhi on Sunday, September 2, for a five-day visit to India, which will mark the first visit by a Chinese Defence Minister in seven years.