This Article is From Jan 17, 2015

Mahinda Rajapaksa Played China Against India, Says Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe

The new Sri Lankan government will redress the previous regime's bid to play India and China against each other, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has told NDTV.

Colombo: In his first television interview since the results of the elections, Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe told NDTV that his government will redress the pro-China tilt of the Rajapaksa regime

"President Rajapaksa's regime tried to play China against India and India against China but it came a cropper," said Mr Wickramasinghe.

During the Rajapaksa years, China invested an estimated $6 billion in Sri Lanka, some of it in strategic infrastructure projects like ports and airports, irking India.

But Mr Wickremasinghe told NDTV, "We are looking into all foreign contracts and local ones, and where there is corruption we will certainly ensure we take action whether it be Chinese or any other country.

In particular, he turned his guns on a $1.5 billion Port City complex, being built by the Chinese on the Colombo seafront.

"We are also reviewing the Port City project", he said, "Because we have not yet seen the feasibility study and the environment impact assessment. I asked when I was with the opposition, in Parliament, but the government didn't help. Therefore we will have to look into the environmental and feasibility aspects."

Sri Lanka's economic dependence  on China has left it heavily in debt, with almost $6-7 billion owed to the latter.

But the country's Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera is confident of a solution. "I'm sure being old friends we can work things out together," he said.