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China reiterates its belief in Sri Lanka’s ability to overcome current difficulties

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China had been providing assistance to Sri Lanka’s economic and social development to the best of its capacity and would continue to do so in the future, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told the media during a press briefing.

He believed that with the concerted efforts of the Sri Lankan government and people, the country would surely overcome the temporary difficulties as soon as possible and usher in renewed and greater development.

He said this responding to a question posed by a journalist.

Journalist: First question, will China meet Sri Lanka’s request for debt relief? Some people also believe that part of why Sri Lanka is struggling economically is due to expensive joint Chinese investments that are not profitable. What’s your response to that? Secondly, do you have any more details about the Gulf states’ foreign ministers’ visit to China? Third question, Iranian media reported that Iran’s foreign minister will visit China this week, possibly related to the nuclear talks. Are you able to confirm this?

Wang Wenbin: Before answering your questions, I would like to brief you on State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to the Maldives and Sri Lanka. This visit came at the 50th anniversary of China-Maldives diplomatic relations, the 65th anniversary of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations, and the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact. It is of great significance and achieved fruitful outcomes.

“During the visit in Sri Lanka, State Councillor Wang Yi joined Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in attending the launching ceremony of celebrations to mark the 65th anniversary of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations and the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Rubber-Rice Pact. He also met separately with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris. Wang said that China-Sri Lanka friendship enjoys a long history, and the Rubber-Rice Pact demonstrates the two countries’ national character in the fight against hegemony and power politics. President Xi Jinping’s historic state visit to Sri Lanka in 2014 opened a new chapter in bilateral friendly cooperation. China firmly supports Sri Lanka in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. As we celebrate the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Sri Lanka and the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Rubber-Rice Pact, China is ready to work with Sri Lanka to carry forward the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact characterized by independence, self-reliance, unity and mutual support, further deepen political mutual trust, fight against the epidemic together, synergize development strategies, promote multilateralism and consolidate and expand the bilateral strategic cooperative partnership. We will make good use of the two flagship projects of Colombo Port City and Hambantota Port to help Sri Lanka realize its “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”, and better deliver benefit to the two countries and peoples.

“The Sri Lankan side said that China, as a great friend of Sri Lanka, never interferes in its internal affairs and always comes forward and extends a helping hand when Sri Lanka faces difficulties, which Sri Lanka will always remember. Sri Lanka will continue to be firmly committed to the one-China policy and staunchly support China’s just proposals on international occasions. Sri Lanka is ready to work with China to hold successful activities to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries and the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact, and strengthen cooperation in economy, trade, finance, tourism and infrastructure construction to bring more benefits to the two peoples.

“During his visit, State Councilor Wang Yi also said that island countries in the Indian Ocean have similar experiences and common needs, boast similar natural endowments and share similar development goals. They have favourable conditions and full potential for strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation. The Chinese side proposes that a forum on the development of island countries in the Indian Ocean can be held at an appropriate time to pool consensus and form synergy for common development.

“As you can tell from what I have just said, it is untrue to say that joint Chinese investments are expensive and not profitable. China-Sri Lanka cooperation is mutually beneficial and has been warmly welcomed by all sectors in Sri Lanka.

Now, coming back to the debt issue you raised, since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China and Sri Lanka have been showing each other understanding and support. China has been providing assistance to Sri Lanka’s economic and social development to the best of its capacity and will continue to do so in the future. It is believed that with the concerted efforts of the Sri Lankan government and people, the country will surely overcome the temporary difficulties as soon as possible and usher in renewed and greater development.”

 

 



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UK funds projects here to prevent conflicts that threaten its interests

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GoSL not among recipients

‘The CSSF is a cross government fund which supports and delivers activity to prevent instability and conflicts that threaten UK interests’

– UK Govt. website

The British High Commission yesterday (25) announced funding for projects worth £3.7m in 2022/23 here to thwart instability and conflicts that threaten British interests.

The announcement came after the conclusion of the visit of British Foreign Minister, Lord Tariq Ahmad, who is also Minister of State for South Asia, the UN, and the Commonwealth and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. The British official visited Jaffna and Trincomalee.

The British HC quoted Lord Ahmad as having said: “Building lasting and inclusive peace in Sri Lanka, based on reconciliation, justice and protecting human rights is key to a stable Sri Lanka, which can attract foreign investment and achieve its economic potential. We are pleased to announce continued support to Sri Lanka through the Conflict, Stability, and Security Fund (CSSF) to address legacies of conflict, promote human rights and build cohesion across all

communities through programme funding of up to £3.7m in 2022/23.”

In response to The Island query whether the Sri Lankan government would be among the recipients of CSSF funding, BHC spokesperson said: “The funding is for programmes and projects implemented with support from BHC. All CSSF programming in Sri Lanka, will be delivered through a combination of civil society, private sector, and international development partners.”

According to the UK government website, the CSSF addressed complex national security challenges and promote international peace and stability. The National Security Council (NSC), which is chaired by the Prime Minister and attended by senior cabinet ministers, sets the CSSF’s strategic direction. It is guided by the priorities set out in the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

The BHC stated: “Lord Ahmad met senior members of the government, including President Gotabaya Rajapaska and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He discussed the importance of the UK Sri Lanka relationship and areas of mutual interest such as climate change and economic recovery from Covid-19. The Minister also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Sri Lanka on Healthcare Cooperation, which will improve knowledge sharing, best practice and expertise on healthcare, and develop an ethical and sustainable recruitment programme for the employment of Sri Lankan nurses and other healthcare professionals in the UK.

During his visit to the North and Eastern Provinces, the Minister met with local politicians and civil society. He discussed key Tamil and Muslim concerns, local governance and inclusive political engagement participation. He emphasised the UK’s support for open, tolerant and inclusive societies as well as freedom of religion or belief.

Throughout his visit to Sri Lanka, Lord Ahmad heard about the essential role civil society play in promoting respect for human rights and their views on how to make progress on reconciliation and accountability.”

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UGC Chief receives ‘The Order of the Rising Sun’ twice

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Senior Prof. Amaratunga poses for a photograph with Amb Sugiyama after receiving the title

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Senior Professor Sampath Amaratunga, Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) has received the prestigious Japanese title ‘The Order of the Rising Sun’ twice.

The academic received the title the highest order conferred by the Government of Japan in the name of His Majesty the Emperor, on 14 Oct. 2021 from the then Japanese Ambassador in Colombo Akira Sugiyama at his official residence.

For the second time, the UGC Chief received the same title from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at Dharmavijayaloka Vihara in Rukmale in Pannipitiya at an event organised on 22 January, 2022.

The Presidential Media Division said that President Rajapaksa after receiving the award

from W.K.H. Wegapitiya, Chairman of University of Sri Jayewardenepura Alumni Association and Japanese Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideaki presented it to Senior Professor Sampath Amaratunga.

Prof. Amaratunga poses for a photograph with President Rajapaksa

Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne delivered the keynote address on the occasion.

‘The Order of the Rising Sun’ is conferred by His Majesty on individuals who have made distinguished achievements in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture et al.

The Japanese embassy announced Senior Prof. Amaratunga and Manoj Fernando, Executive Vice President of the Sri Lanka Baseball/Softball Association (SLBSA) received the award.

The Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Most Ven. Ittapana Dhammalankara Thera has presented a memento to Japanese Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideaki.

W.K.H. Wegapitiya and Prof. Sudantha Liyanage, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, presented a memento to the President. The members of Maha Sangha, MP S.B. Dissanayake, Chancellors and Vice Chancellors of the Universities, and alumni of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura were also present.

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Cardinal insists on taking Easter killings to int’l community

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Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has said they are left with no alternative but to turn to the international community to seek justice for victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, according to a report published by the Union of Catholic Asian News yesterday (25).

“We tried our best to solve the issue within the country and do justice to our people but have failed,” he said during an online forum with an international audience on Jan. 24.

“The legal system under the Attorney General does not consider the recommendations of the presidential commission on the Easter attacks, therefore we have no option but to go international.”

Cardinal Ranjith had hinted in April 2021 of his intentions to not only approach the United Nations but also countries with global influence.

“We can influence those countries as the Church is an international organisation. We have connections all over the world,”he said.

A group of suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamaath was suspected to be behind the bombings at three churches and three luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in 2019. The attacks killed 269 people, including 37 foreign nationals, and left around 500 injured.

Catholics in Sri Lanka have not been happy with the investigations and led by Cardinal Ranjith have vowed to fight for justice until the truth behind the attacks is revealed.

Cardinal Ranjith said he was not satisfied with the investigations underway since the recovery of a live hand grenade at All Saints’ Church in Borella on Jan. 11.

Muni, a church worker, has been arrested as a suspect by police but the local Church alleged he was being falsely implicated.

Cardinal Ranjith said that such a thing will not be allowed to happen. “We trust the judiciary to take steps to rectify the wrongdoing in the court,” he said.

The arrest of a retired doctor in connection with the same case had further raised suspicion, with Father Cyril Gamini questioning the police investigations.

“We understand that this is an attempt at fabricating a story. The whole country knows that this is a drama and we can see it is a very weak script,” he said.

Father Gamini was earlier questioned by the Criminal Investigation Department over his claims regarding the Easter Sunday attacks during an online forum last November.

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