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Chinese President Xi Jinping extended his support to newly elected Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe. This support comes as the island grapples with its worst economic crisis in decades.

Wickremesinghe served as Sri Lanka’s prime minister a record six times and was sworn in as president on Thursday in the face of fierce public opposition.

The last few months in Sri Lanka have been marked by mass protests, eventually forcing former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country.

In his message of support, Xi Jinping states that he believes in Sri Lanka’s ability to move towards economic and social recovery and he is “ready to provide support and assistance to the best of my ability to President Wickremesinghe and the people of Sri Lanka in their efforts”, CCTV, the Chinese state-owned broadcaster, reported.

Sri Lanka owes at least $5 billion to China although some estimates put it at almost twice that amount. India has also lent it $3.8 billion and Japan is owed at least $3.5 billion, according to the International Monetary Fund, 

Wickremesinghe has recently declared a state of emergency. Security forces raided and partially cleared a protest camp occupying government grounds in Colombo on Friday, fuelling fears that Wickremesinghe had launched a crackdown a day after being sworn in.

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