The Sunday Leader

The President’s Fruitful Visit To China

President Mahinda Rajapaksa on an invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping left for China on May 26 for a four day state visit.

During his stay in China, President Rajapaksa held bilateral discussions with his counterpart as well as with Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Vice President Li Yuanchao, Minister of Defence Chang Wanquan and Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng. The talks centred on further enhancing cooperation between the two countries in trade, investment, tourism, culture, science and technology, defence, and regional and international affairs.

The President also attended the inaugural ceremonies of the Global Service Forum – Beijing Summit and the 2013 International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).

President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Wikaramasinghe Rajapaksa were warmly received at the Beijing Capital International Airport by China’s deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin along with Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in China Ranjith Uyangoda.
Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank), Li Ruogu, called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the China World Hotel on May 28.

During the meeting President Rajapaksa said his government hopes that the Bank would continue to support Sri Lanka’s future development initiatives. In response the Exim Bank Chairman said he was satisfied with the progress made in the development cooperation with Sri Lanka and assured the Bank’s continued support, particularly in the areas of road development, the construction of highways and water supply projects.

The Bank has provided financial assistance to 37 development projects in the country during the past seven years, including the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port and the Southern Expressway.

President Rajapaksa extended an invitation to the Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank of China, Ruogu to visit Sri Lanka.
During bilateral meetings between Sri Lanka and China in Beijing on last Tuesday afternoon China pledged to provide further funding to develop Sri Lanka’s transport sector that includes a number of expressways, road networks and railway lines and a new Colombo-Jaffna expressway.

President Rajapaksa thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for China’s continued support to Sri Lanka in a number of spheres. He also congratulated President Jinping, who took over as China’s new president in March of this year, and said his assumption to this high office is testament to the confidence that the Chinese people have in him.

During the bilateral meeting, the two delegations also discussed trade and tourism. The two countries signed an agreement to establish two committees that would work towards a free trade agreement. This would give Sri Lankan products such as apparel, gems and jewelry, tea and rubber wider access in the Chinese market. In the area of tourism, Sri Lanka and China agreed to work towards the goal of attracting 100,000 Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka by 2015.

China also pledged support for a number of other projects: Water supply schemes in Attanagalla, Minuwangoda and Kurunegala, an international conference hall in Kandy, an arts theatre in Anuradhapura and the development of the national hospitals in Colombo and Ragama.

On Wednesday (29) the Chairman of the China Development Bank (CDB) Hu Huaibang called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the China World Hotel together with several senior officials of the Bank including the Director General Zhang Linwu.

President Rajapaksa thanked the Bank for assisting many infrastructure development projects in Sri Lanka and expressed hope that it would continue to assist the country in future initiatives, including the completion of the Moragahakanda Reservoir Project initiated with financial assistance from the Bank.

Huaibang pledged his bank’s highest priority to Sri Lanka’s requests for development assistance during the meeting. The President also agreed to a proposal by the Bank to establish a separate institute to better manage development aid.

Meanwhile President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressed the opening ceremony of the Global Services Forum Beijing Summit on Wednesday (29) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. “As Asian countries transform to become service-driven economies, it is important that we work towards creating greater synergies. Many leaders across the world acknowledge that economic disparities are a source for internal conflicts, aware of this fact, we in Sri Lanka are working hard to ensure that all the citizens of our country get equal economic opportunities.”

Highlighting Sri Lanka’s strategic geographical location, liberal economic policies and political stability, President Rajapaksa said the services sectors are at the forefront of the government’s strategy. Elaborating on the long history of China’s economic role in the region and throughout the world, President Rajapaksa said trading with the Asian giant has been crucial for many nations throughout the ages. “The peaceful economic rise of China during the last three decades is a matter of great pride and satisfaction for all of us in the region,” the President said.

The Forum took place on the occasion of the second China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) being held at the China National Convention Center. The Fair brings together leading service organisations from around the world. President Rajapaksa opened the Sri Lanka pavilion at the fair by lighting the traditional oil lamp.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang met President Mahinda Rajapaksa on last Wednesday afternoon at the Great Hall of the People and assured him that the trade imbalance, which is now in favour of China, will soon be addressed to benefit Sri Lanka as well. “China will explore the possibility of establishing an industrial zone in Hambantota, and in addition, we will support Sri Lanka to develop capabilities in satellite communication, space technology and maritime industries,” the Chinese premier added.

Prime Minister Keqiang further reiterated China’s commitment to following through on all the development projects that were agreed upon during the bilateral agreements.

President Rajapaksa, who thanked the Chinese government for its continuous and multifaceted support to Sri Lanka’s development and noted that the East Asian nation has become a key development partner in Sri Lanka’s post-conflict era. The Chinese Prime Minister said, “the long-standing friendship between the two countries has now reached the level of strategic cooperation” and described President Rajapaksa as “a mature politician and able leader who ushered in peace to the country.”

President Rajapaksa told the Premier that the terrorist war that went on for nearly 30 years devastated infrastructure particularly in the north and east. Now that peace has returned to the country, the President said, the government’s focus is to develop all areas of the country on an equal basis. President Rajapaksa also expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for its consistent support in combating terrorism and its support at regional and international fore. He further reassured the Premier that Sri Lanka is committed to maintaining the “One China Policy” in its foreign policy. Before concluding the bilateral talks, President Rajapaksa reminded the Premier of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that will take place in Sri Lanka in November of this year and invited China to send a business delegation to the Commonwealth Business Forum, which is open to non-Commonwealth nations.

Prime Minister Keqiang said his country will make use of the opportunity. In conclusion, the President also extended invitations to both the Chinese President and Prime Minister to visit Sri Lanka.

On May 30 President Mahinda Rajapaksa participated in the opening ceremony of the 2013 International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) Special Conference at the State Guest House of Shaanxi Province. Addressing the conference President Rajapaksa said that solutions to imminent environment problems must be equitable. “It is important to remember that the present situation is one which has been brought about by excessive consumption on the part of the industrialised nations and that developing countries played no part in aggravating this situation,” President Rajapaksa said. “It is therefore, palpably unjust to try to impose a solution which involves significant controls and restrictions that prevent the developing world from producing and using energy for legitimate needs.”

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao during a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on last Thursday afternoon in China’s Shaanxi Province, at the end of what he called “very successful bilateral talks and visit, pledged to continue to strengthen relations with Sri Lanka and to expand cooperation into new sectors in what he described as an equal partnership.

While urging China to further open up the Chinese market to Sri Lankan products, President Rajapaksa requested Vice President Yuanchao to look into lowering the price of Sri Lankan tea in the Chinese market. The President observed that the prices appear to be high and that lower prices could make it more accessible to more Chinese consumers.

With regard to tourism promotion, Vice President Yuanchao promised to encourage Chinese tourists to visit Sri Lanka. Referring to the South Asian nation as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” he said that during the war, tourists were scared to visit Sri Lanka, but that is not the case anymore since terrorism was eradicated under the strong leadership of President Rajapaksa.

While President Rajapaksa renewed his invitation to the Chinese leadership to visit Sri Lanka, Vice President Yuanchao also invited Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa to lead a youth delegation to China. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his delegation arrived in Sri Lanka after his fruitful visit to Chinaon last Friday morning.

The Sri Lankan delegation accompanying the President includes Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Monitoring MP for the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin de Vaas Gunawardena, Ministers Wimal Weerawansa and Douglas Devananda, Parliamentarians A.H.M. Azwer and Namal Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Chief-of-Staff Gamini Senerath.

1 Comment for “The President’s Fruitful Visit To China”

  1. he had gone to almost all countries spending poor mans’ taxes.But No any effects???We have never heard of a leader of this kind who enjoys staying in super grade hotels using our mone while we pay Rs 10000 forrr sprats and curse on him

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