Exclusive with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe
Editor's Note: Slowly recovering from the 2004 tsunami and the 2019 terrorist bombings, the "Pearl of the Indian Ocean" now faces an unprecedented economic crisis. Sri Lanka's central bank projects that its GDP will shrink by 2 percent this year, having contracted 7.8 percent in 2022. In this edition of Leaders Talk, CMG's Li Tongtong caught up with Ranil Wickremesinghe, the president of Sri Lanka, on his visit to China to attend the 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. President Wickremesinghe talks about his efforts to stabilize Sri Lanka's economy and the ongoing debt restructuring processes. He also look at how China and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can kick-start the country's economy. He remarks that the spirit of the BRI is the modern-day equivalent of the much-acclaimed Rubber-Rice Pact 70 years ago. Talking of the Hambantota Port and Western allegations of China's "debt-trap diplomacy" in his country, Wickremesinghe dismisses such claims, saying "we are only acting in the interest of our country."