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China wants end to geopolitical competition in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 03/10/2017 (Tuesday)

by Zacki Jabbar

China has called for an end to geopolitical competition in Sri Lanka, pointing out that all countries should work to promote mutual development.

The Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yi Xianliang, addressing a ceremony to mark the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China at the BMICH in Colombo last week, said that China would maximise the synergy of each other’s development strategies under the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road framework, to achieve reciprocal benefits and advancement.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, who was the Chief Guest at the ceremony, said that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government was committed to the One China Policy and strengthening of bilateral relations.

Thanking China for economic and social development assistance, Senaratne emphasised that it could be relied on as a trusted friend.

Ambassador Yi said that as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka possessed a sound foundation to progress economically. "We hope that all other countries would avoid interference in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs, not seek geopolitical competition in this beautiful island and work together to promote win-win development."

China, which was the second largest economy in the world, with the biggest trade volume and foreign exchange reserves, looked forward to working with Sri Lanka to achieve a more brilliant future in bilateral ties and prosperity of its two peoples, he stressed.

Yi said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1960, China had provided a total of Rs.220 billion in assistance, becoming the largest aid provider and also the first ranked country in investment cooperation and number two in bilateral trade with Sri Lanka.

Talks were continuing to finalise a Free Trade Agreement as early as possible, he noted adding that since 2014 China had been Sri Lanka’s second largest tourism source market.

The Ambassador said that in this the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties and 65th Anniversary of the signing of the Rubber-Rice Pact,bilateral,relations had reached new heights through high-level exchanges, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

"We are friends in deed and in need. Since 1960, China’s total assistance to Sri Lanka has amounted to over Rs.220 billion and recent years and have become its largest assistance provider. From 2014 to 2017, China offered Rs.33 billion as aid given gratis and from 2018 to 2020 the aid quantum would total Rs.47 billion", he revealed.

Yi observed that disaster relief provided amounted to around Rs. 800 million with Chinese international rescue teams and local Chinese companies also joining in humanitarian work.

Other assistance , he said included construction of the Out Patient Building of National Hospital and the Kidney Disease Hospital at a total cost of Rs. 23 billion.Recent visit of the Chinese Peace Ark hospital ship to Colombo, during which free medical services were provided to locals and provision of 2027 scholarships to Sri Lankans in the first nine months of this year and frequent exchanges between Buddhist groups, media, artists and think-tanks of the two countries aimed at reinforcing friendship and mutual understanding.

Source: The Island

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