China ready to help Sri Lanka overcome economic difficulties: Ministry
The Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesperson says China is ready to maintain close contact with Sri Lanka and "meet the challenges together."
Chinese Commerce Ministry Spokesperson Shu Jueting affirmed on Thursday that China is ready to help Sri Lanka cope with economic difficulties and improve people's living conditions.
"China will continue to support Sri Lanka to the best of its ability amid the difficulties that the country is facing so that it can recover its economy as soon as possible and improve people's living conditions," Shu told a briefing.
The Chinese official added that her country is ready to maintain close contact with Sri Lanka and "meet the challenges together."
She added that "We will together maintain a healthy and stable development of relations under our trade agreement [China-Ceylon Rice Rubber Pact signed in 1952]."
Sri Lanka declares state of emergency
Sri Lanka is mired in a political deadlock caused by the country's worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948.
The country witnessed protests against the government which culminated on Saturday, when activists in Colombo took control of the residences of the president and the prime minister, demanding their resignation.
Earlier, the protestors announced ending their occupation of government buildings, vowing to continue their campaign to depose the President and Prime Minister considering the country's catastrophic economic situation.
In April, all 24 ministers of Sri Lanka's cabinet resigned from their posts amid protests and clashes in the capital, Colombo.
The protesters had stormed Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's palace over the weekend, forcing him to leave for the Maldives the next day, and later on, they also stormed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's office.
In his absence, Rajapaksa appointed the Premier as Acting President, ordering the evacuation of official buildings and instructing security personnel to do "whatever is necessary to restore order."
Hundreds of thousands of people had sit-ins within the property after Rajapaksa fled and his security guards backed down.
Wickremesinghe claimed on television after thousands of protesters stormed his office in Colombo, "Those who come to my office want to prevent me from carrying out my duty as acting president."
"We can't allow fascists to take over. That is why I declared a nationwide emergency and a curfew," he added.
The Sri Lankan parliament will hold a presidential election on July 20 and appoint a caretaker government, which will remain in power until the next general election.
Sri Lanka's worst economic crisis in seven decades
The political turmoil in Sri Lanka, coupled with the worst economic crisis in seven decades, has been exacerbated by a severe shortage of foreign currency, which has slowed imports of essentials such as fuel, food, and medicines.
The financial crisis arose as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which devastated the tourism-dependent economy and reduced remittances from overseas workers.
The crisis has been exacerbated by the government's massive and growing debt, rising oil prices, and a seven-month ban on importing chemical fertilizers last year, which devastated agriculture.
Petrol has been severely rationed, and long lines have formed in front of cooking gas stores. In order to save fuel, the government has asked people to work from home and has closed schools.
Headline inflation in the 22-million-person country reached 54.6% last month, and the central bank has warned that it could reach 70% in the coming months.