Colombo Gazette

China in Sri Lanka

China-Sri Lanka Lanka Friendship unstoppable

By Yi Xianliang, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka

I am going to complete my assignment and return to my motherland today. On February 24, 2015, I arrived in Colombo and started my assignment as the 20th Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka. During the past two years and nine months, I traveled to all 9 provinces and 25 districts of Sri Lanka, made a lot of local friends and witnessed the China-Sri Lanka relations overcome obstacles, move forward and usher in new development opportunities.

China and Sri Lanka have maintained close high-level exchanges and deepened mutual trust. H.E. President Sirisena paid a state visit to China at the beginning of his presidency and held fruitful meetings with H.E. President Xi Jinping, indicating the direction for the sustained and in-depth development of China-Sri Lanka relations.

The two leaders have maintained close communication on international and regional occasions. Hon. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe successfully made official visit and work visit to China and attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, further promoting the deepening of China-Sri Lanka pragmatic cooperation. Hon. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and H.E. Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, exchanged visits. Bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields have been continuously expanded.

The mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Sri Lanka has achieved new development and brought tangible benefits to the two peoples. At present, China has become the largest trading partner, the largest infrastructure construction partner of Sri Lanka and the largest source country of investment, donation and assistance to Sri Lanka. The economic and trade cooperation between China and Sri Lanka has created more than 100,000 jobs, trained tens of thousands of technical and managerial talents, and played an irreplaceable role in the economic and social development of Sri Lanka. Under the guidance of the Belt and Road Initiative and the concept of engaging in extensive consultation, making joint contribution and sharing benefits, the cooperation between China and Sri Lanka is striding forward.

The Port City and Hambantota Comprehensive development projects are taking off together, further facilitating the development of China-Sri Lanka pragmatic cooperation. China and Sri Lanka are friends in need. The Chinese people will not forget the precious support that the Sri Lankan government and people gave to the Chinese people when disasters like Wenchuan Earthquake hit China. Likewise, whenever Sri Lanka is faced with natural disasters, the Chinese government and people empathize with Sri Lankan friends and always provide assistance to the government and people within our capacity. The Chinese people with the peculiar characters of sincere, amity, pragmatism and efficiency, will work together with the Sri Lankan people to build a more richly endowed, more prosperous, more modern and more industrialized Sri Lanka.

China- Sri Lanka millennium friendship is shining in a new era through cultural exchanges and mutual learning. Both China and Sri Lanka are ancient civilizations. Buddhism has been the shared culture of the two countries over 1600 years. I am glad to see that the cultural exchanges in Buddhism, tourism and education and so on are becoming increasingly popular. The buddhist monks of the two countries maintain close exchanges and keep learning from each other. China is one of the largest tourist source countries of Sri Lanka.

The ubiquitous Chinese tourists have not only contributed to the economic development of Sri Lanka, but also enhanced the understanding and friendship between our two peoples. The Chinese government provides Sri Lanka more than 100 government scholarships and 2,000 trainingships every year. 15 Sri Lankan universities have established Chinese Ambassador Scholarship. The Chinese philharmonic orchestra, the Shaolin monks’ wushu troupe, and other Chinese cultural troupes with Chinese characteristics are warmly welcomed in Sri Lanka. More and more Sri Lankan friends are learning Chinese, they will become new envoys for China-Sri Lanka friendship in the future.

History is a mirror that reflects the boom and bust. The flourishing relations between China and Sri Lanka tells that the historical friendship between China and Sri Lanka is unstoppable. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Sri Lanka. We are proud of the achievements of our relations in the past 60 years. At present, China-Sri Lanka relations have entered a new fast track under the guidance of Belt and Road initiative. I am confident that China-Sri Lanka longstanding friendship and mutually beneficial and inclusive cooperation will continue to create new wonders for the benefit of the two countries and the two peoples and make important contributions to peace and development in the Indian Ocean region.

Dear friends, Sri Lanka has become my second hometown. The honest and friendly Sri Lankan people, the mountains and rivers, the flowers and trees of the beautiful island nation, will become my sweet and permanent memories. The experience here will be the invaluable wealth of my life. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to H.E. President Sirisena, Hon. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, Hon. Speaker Jayasuriya, ministers, parliamentarians and the Sri Lankan people for your precious support for carrying out my competence. In the future, wherever I am, I will continue to pay attention to Sri Lanka and support the development of China-Sri Lanka relations.

Sincere and indeed friends won’t become alienated because of the distance. Goodbye and good luck, Sri Lanka!

(Colombo Gazette)

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