February 11, 2014 / 12:14 PM / 5 years ago

China backs Sri Lanka over U.S. rights complaint

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (not pictured) in Montreux, Switzerland January 22, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Foreign Minister on Tuesday offered support for Sri Lanka after the United States said it would table a U.N. resolution against Colombo over its human rights record.

“China opposes some countries’ interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka under the pretext of human rights issues,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Sri Lankan counterpart G. L. Peiris in Beijing.

China backs the Sri Lankan government in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, Wang said, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

“We believe in the Sri Lankan people’s wisdom and capacity to handle their own affairs,” Wang added.

Sri Lanka this month rejected U.S. criticism of its human rights record as “grossly disproportionate”, after a senior U.S. official said Washington would table a U.N. resolution against the country.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, which finally crushed a 26-year rebellion by ethnic minority Tamil separatists in 2009, has rejected calls for an international inquiry into atrocities during the civil war.

China has increasingly tight ties with Sri Lanka, funding airports, roads, railways and ports, which has unsettled India, traditionally Sri Lanka’s closest economic partner.

The island of 21 million people just off India’s southern tip has become a front in the competition between the Asian giants China and India.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel

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