World

Chinese leader inaugurates $1.4 billion Sri Lankan port project ahead of India visit

  • Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, right, shares a lighter moment with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting  in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Sept.16, 2014. Xi is visiting countries in South Asia this week to seek closer relations and support for his vision of a modern maritime "Silk Road", a sea route connecting China with Europe.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, right, shares a lighter moment with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Sept.16, 2014. Xi is visiting countries in South Asia this week to seek closer relations and support for his vision of a modern maritime "Silk Road", a sea route connecting China with Europe.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, right, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Sept.16, 2014. Xi is visiting countries in South Asia this week to seek closer relations and support for his vision of a modern maritime "Silk Road", a sea route connecting China with Europe.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, right, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Sept.16, 2014. Xi is visiting countries in South Asia this week to seek closer relations and support for his vision of a modern maritime "Silk Road", a sea route connecting China with Europe.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, right, listens to Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Sept.16, 2014. Xi is visiting countries in South Asia this week to seek closer relations and support for his vision of a modern maritime "Silk Road", a sea route connecting China with Europe.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, right, listens to Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Sept.16, 2014. Xi is visiting countries in South Asia this week to seek closer relations and support for his vision of a modern maritime "Silk Road", a sea route connecting China with Europe.(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Sri Lanka inaugurating a $1.4 billion port city being built on an artificial island near the island nation's capital.

The Colombo Port City, funded largely by Chinese loans, is designed to become a key link in a maritime route China hopes will boost trade with Europe.

Xi and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa cut a ribbon to officially launch the project during a ceremony Wednesday.

Aside from offering a base to international shippers, the port city is expected to ease traffic and congestion in Colombo's busy business district.

Xi was traveling later Wednesday to India, where he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to discuss trade, infrastructure and territorial disputes.