Sri Lanka's new president has held talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping amid efforts to recalibrate his predecessor's strongly pro-China policies.

Maithripala Sirisena met with Xi on Thursday in Beijing at the start of his first visit to the Asian giant since taking office in January.

Xi told Sirisena that China considers Sri Lanka a strategic partner and wants to further boost relations.

The two sides were considered likely to discuss a $1.5 billion China-funded port city project in Colombo which Sirisena's government suspended pending scrutiny of environment impacts and alleged corruption. Sirisena's administration has also ordered reviews of all China-funded projects.

Sirisena wants to balance Sri Lanka's China ties against those with India, which has become increasingly concerned about new Chinese economic and military inroads in the Indian Ocean.