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China rejects claims of bacteria in fertiliser, asks for intervention of world’s No 1 testing organisation



Lanka obtains second ruling against supplier, its local agent and state bank

In the wake of Commercial High Court of Colombo judge Priyantha Fernando halting the unloading of a shipload of organic fertiliser at the Colombo harbour and stopping payments to Chinese supplier, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co. Ltd and its local agent Chelinaa Capital Corporation (Pvt) Limited, the supplier has challenged the Sri Lanka government to entrust Swiss SGS Group the world’s most authoritative and the top third-party testing organisation to re-sample the consignment rejected on grounds of being contaminated with ‘Erwinia.’

The Attorney General last Friday (22) sought the judicial intervention following growing protests against the Chinese products, spearheaded by the Opposition lawmakers. The Presidential Media Division (PMD) yesterday (26) said that Pradeep Hettiarachchi of Commercial High Court of Colombo (No2) prohibited payments to the Chinese company in response to an appeal by the Colombo Commercial Fertiliser. Yesterday’s court ruling has been issued in respect of the Chinese supplier, its local agent and the People’s Bank.

In a statement issued through the Chinese Embassy in Colombo yesterday (26), Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group asked the Sri Lankan government to accept re-sampling by the Swiss SGS group to see whether the samples had been contaminated by Erwinia. The Chinese said that both parties should unconditionally accept the test results of the third party. “If Erwinia contamination is confirmed, the supplier shall unconditionally transport the goods back to China. If there is no Erwinia contamination, the buyer shall unconditionally accept the goods and arrange payment.

The statement further said that the supplier reserved the right to investigate the legal responsibility of relevant parties for the

“untrue” or even “slanderous” reports and comments made by a section of the media.

The Chinese group emphasized that the shipping arrangement has been requested by Sri Lanka and it would be the responsibility of the buyer (Ministry of Agriculture) to obtain the Import Permit for 99,000 metric tons of organic fertilizer. The Chinese stressed that they were not responsible for securing the Import Permit. The company stated: “*The product samples have passed the test of Schutter group, a third-party international testing organization designated by the buyer and passed the export plant quarantine of China Customs before shipment.

* The detection method and conclusion of NPQS (National Plant Quarantine Service) in Sri Lanka do not comply with international animal and plant quarantine convention.

* Some officials from NPQS and the buyer, together with some local media are irresponsible when commenting on the issue with baseless derogatory words that seriously slander the image of Chinese enterprise.

* The Seller requests both parties to entrust the world’s most authoritative and the No.1 third-party testing organization (Swiss SGS group) to re-sampling as soon as possible to test whether the samples are contaminated by Erwinia. Both parties should unconditionally accept the test results and fulfill its responsibilities accordingly.”

The Chinese company has questioned the quality as well as the acceptability of NPQS’s findings in respect of the organic fertiliser consignment. The Chinese company asked how NPQS reached the conclusion that the samples contained Erwinia within three days when it would take more than six days to identify Erwinia according to International Plant Protection Convention). “The unscientific detection method and conclusion of NPQS in Sri Lanka obviously do not comply with international animal and plant quarantine convention,” the company stated.

The Chinese company stressed that the failure to obtain the import permit was caused by the buyer’s mistakes and negative inaction.

Declaring that the Chinese Customs, too, cleared the consignment following tests proved that product hadn’t been contaminated by Erwinia, the company accused Sri Lanka of resorting to unilateral measures in violation of contract agreement, international trade rules and the test result of their-own designated third-party Schutter group.

The Chinese supplier said that a section of the media questioned the quality of Chinese products, and even used “Toxic, garbage, pollution” and other derogatory words that seriously slander the image of Chinese enterprise and the Chinese government. “Such unilateral, untrue, and irresponsible remarks mislead the public and undermine the credibility of the media. The above “deliberately creating difficulties”, “unreasonable” and even “malicious” acts of NPQS, the buyer as well as some media give people reason to suspect that the buyer was creating various obstacles to obstruct the implementation of the contract, and even has bad commercial intentions.

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Earliest Sri Lanka can recover from bankruptcy is in 2027 – Dr Bandula Gunawardena




Minister of Transport and Highways and Minister of Mass Media Dr Bandula Gunawardena at a press briefing held at the Presidential Media Center today (30) said that the earliest Sri Lanka can recover from bankruptcy is in 2027, at which time it is envisaged that the countries foreign reserves which stand at USD 3.5 billion at present would increase to USD 14 billion..


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Pope Francis to evict Cardinal Raymond Burke from Vatican




US Cardinal Raymond Burke has been a leader in the Catholic Church for decades (BBC)

Pope Francis is evicting US Cardinal Raymond Burke, an outspoken critic, from his Vatican apartment and revoking his salary.

Cardinal Burke is part of a group of American conservatives who have long opposed the Pope’s plans for reforming the Catholic Church.

A Vatican source told the BBC that Pope Francis has not yet carried out his intention to evict the 75-year-old and the decision is not meant as a personal punishment, the source added. Instead, it comes from the belief that a person should not enjoy cardinal privileges while criticising the head of the church.

Still, the move is “unprecedented in the Francis era”, Christopher White, a Vatican observer who writes for the National Catholic Reporter, told the BBC. “Typically, retired cardinals continue to reside in Rome after stepping down from their positions, often remaining active in papal liturgies and ceremonial duties,” he said. “Evicting someone from their Vatican apartment sets a new precedent.”

White warned that the decision could “provoke significant backlash” and deepen divides between the Vatican and the US church, where there is already “fragmentation”.

Cardinal Burke has yet to respond to the news and the BBC has reached out to his office for comment.

The Pope revealed his plan to act against the cardinal at a meeting with heads of Vatican offices last week. His frustration with US detractors who take a more traditional or conservative view on several issues appears to be coming to a boil.

Earlier this month, he fired Joseph Strickland, a conservative Texas bishop who had blasted his attempts to move the church to more liberal positions on abortion, transgender rights and same-sex marriage. The removal followed a church investigation into governance of the diocese.

A few months before, the Pope told members of the Jesuit religious order in Portugal that there was “a very strong, organised, reactionary attitude in the US church”, which he called “backward”, according to the Guardian.

Tensions with Cardinal Burke, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, have been simmering for nearly a decade, with the American prelate openly criticising Pope Francis over both social and liturgical issues.

“Cardinal Burke’s situation seems to stem from his gradual alienation from the Pope,” said  White. “It appears the Pope perceives Burke as fostering a cult of personality, centred around traditionalism or regressive ideals. This action seems aimed at limiting Burke’s influence by severing his ties to Rome.”

Pope Francis with hand up in front of Vatican building
Pope Francis waves to crowds while leaving St Peter’s Square (pic BBC)

Most recently, the cardinal held a conference called The Synodal Babel in Rome on the eve of the Pope’s synod, or meeting of bishops, last month.

He also joined fellow conservatives in publishing a “declaration of truths” in 2019 that described the Catholic church as disoriented and confused under Pope Francis, saying that it had moved away from core teachings on divorce, contraception, homosexuality and gender. Notably, he disagreed with the Pope promoting Covid vaccines.

Within church politics, he and Pope Francis were at odds over the firing of the head of the Knights of Malta after the order’s charity branch was found to have distributed condoms in Myanmar.

The Pope, in turn, has demoted Cardinal Burke within the church hierarchy or moved him to posts with less influence over the years.

Michael Matt, a columnist for the right-wing Catholic newspaper The Remnant, wrote that the most recent action taken against Cardinal Burke showed that Pope Francis was “cancelling faithful prelates who offer hierarchical cover to pro-life, pro-family, pro-tradition hardliners”. He accused the Pope of putting critics into “forced isolation”.


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Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dies aged 100




Henry Kissinger at the State Department's 230th anniversary celebrations in 2019

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has died at the age 100.

He served as America’s top diplomat and national security adviser during the Nixon and Ford administrations.

In a statement, Kissinger Associates, a political consulting firm he founded, said the German-born former diplomat died at his home in Connecticut but did not give a cause of death.

During his decades long career, Mr Kissinger played a key, and sometimes controversial, role in US foreign and security policy.

Born in Germany in 1973, Kissinger first came to the US in 1938 when his family fled Nazi Germany. He became a US citizen in 1943 and went on to serve three years in the US Army and later in the Counter Intelligence Corps. After earning bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees, he taught international relations at Harvard.

In 1969, then-President Richard Nixon appointed him National Security Adviser, a position which gave him enormous influence over US foreign policy in two administrations.


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