Enriching of Sino-Lanka relations
The signing of eight bilateral agreements worth
US$ 800 million between China and Sri Lanka, aimed at boosting this
country's development prospects, could be considered a profound moment
of triumph in Sino-Lanka relations.
All credit to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga for
helping to seal these accords between the world's fastest growing
economy and us, for, they meet a number of our long-term development
needs, besides adding greater depth and warmth to our centuries long
ties with China. Long live, Sino-Lanka links, is our wish.
As could be seen, the agreements clinched with our friendly economic
giant of East Asia, pertain mainly to infrastructure development - an
area in which we have been found to be lagging behind other developing
countries whose economic fortunes are now on the mend.
Two landmark development ventures which will be getting off the
ground in this country with generous Chinese assistance, the
Norachcholai coal power project and the Hambantota port project, bear
out the fact that our ties with China have grown in both depth and
There is no doubt that the successful completion of infrastructure
development projects of this kind would impact very favourably on our
long-term development plans and bring us abundant economic dividends.
The Norachcholai project, for instance, would help in meeting our power
and energy needs and prove a major fillip in the further
industrialization of our country.
The positive impact the Hambantota port project would have on our
international trade prospects, needs hardly be elaborated on.
Likewise, joint ventures in the tourism and technical fields would
undoubtedly help in the further diversification and energising of our
economy and assist us in growing out of economic paradigms which have
stifled our development in the past.
However it is not only on account of anticipated material and
economic benefits that we warmly welcome this deepening of our relations
with the People's Republic of China. We note with great satisfaction
that projects of an educational and cultural kind are also on the
drawing boards. One of these is the establishment here of the Confucius
Institute which would serve as a memorial to the great Chinese
philosopher Confucius-a household name in Asia and in the world.
While it is true that the People's Republic of China is Asia's
economic power- house, it should not be forgotten that China is also
heir to one of the world's greatest civilizations. Her achievements in
the field of the Humanities and human thought is epitomised by
Confucius, a path-breaker in Eastern philosophy. Besides, China and Sri
Lanka share commonalities in Buddhism and these golden threads that bind
our civilizations have very ancient roots.
Accordingly, making our relations with China multidimensional by
building on our common spiritual and philosophical roots, could be
described as most timely and welcome.
It is no coincidence that this further enriching of our ties with
China is coming at a time when yet another Bandaranaike is steering the
affairs of State in Sri Lanka. President Kumaratunga is, of course, heir
to her father, SWRD Bandaranaike's foreign policy principles - such as
Non-Alignment- and it is the conduct of our foreign affairs on this
principle over the past 11 years, which has enabled Sino-Lanka ties to
The pivotal role being played by China in world affairs today, draws
attention to the importance of the development paradigm she has been
pursuing over the years.
While continuing to be a good friend of China we also need to study
closely her pragmatic approach to development which has made her a
foremost economic and military power.