Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the country from the Bandaranaike International Airport a short while ago.
During his stay, Xi is scheduled to hold talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and meet respectively with Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and Parliament Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to plan the future growth of bilateral relations.
The landmark visit is also expected to vigorously advance the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, as Sri Lanka has shown strong support for the two China-proposed initiatives.
In addition, the visit will inject fresh vigor into the China-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks. A joint feasibility study completed in March 2014 concluded that signing the FTA will benefit both countries.
Xi's visit to Sri Lanka, the first of its kind since late President Li Xiannian's state visit to the South Asian island country in 1986, is "important" to the development of bilateral ties, President Rajapaksa said in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.
Since establishing diplomatic ties 57 years ago, China and Sri Lanka have enjoyed healthy and stable bilateral relations, which were upgraded in 2013 to a strategic cooperative partnership of reciprocal assistance and ever-lasting friendship.
Over the years, the two countries have maintained frequent high-level contact, continuously deepened practical cooperation in trade, investment and infrastructure development, and expanded cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
China has become Sri Lanka's second largest trade partner and second largest source of imports. In 2013, China became Sri Lanka's largest investor and bilateral trade reached 3.62 billion U.S. dollars.