China says Sri Lanka is suspending work on a Chinese-backed resort as part of a reevaluation of the island's ties to Beijing under its new president.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Friday that Sri Lanka had emphasized the project had only been halted temporarily.

She said Beijing hoped Sri Lanka would protect the legitimate rights of the Chinese enterprises involved.

A Sri Lankan review board said the $1.4 billion project that broke ground in September near the capital Colombo appeared to lack the required approvals.

The Sri Lankan review is focusing on the project's financing and loan repayment conditions, but it's not clear how long that will take.

New Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is due to visit China later this month.