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Chinese Ambassador urges sincere unity and cooperation among regional nations given gravity of pandemic

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Given the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries in the region must cooperate with each other sincerely, Qi Zhenhong, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka said yesterday issuing a statement. With this aim in mind China works with Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh to provide pandemic support, he said.

“As of early September, China has provided a total of about 120 million doses of vaccines to South Asian countries through various channels. Among them, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal have received 70 million, 22 million, 19 million, and 7.4 million doses respectively, and Pakistan and Bangladesh also have started local vaccine production with China’s support,” Zhenhong said.

Given below is the statement in full: “Since April this year, South Asia is facing a new round of COVID-19 pandemic, and Sri Lanka has been suffering the most serious impact than ever. In times of adversity, it is even more necessary for people in the same boat to help each other, and more urgently for countries in the region to cooperate sincerely. On April 27th, China established a response mechanism with Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh the first time. The foreign ministers of the six countries held a visual conference to discuss joint efforts to fight the pandemic and revive the economy, and achieved important outcomes, including the announcement to establish the China-South Asia Emergency Supplies Reserve and the China-South Asia Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center. In early July, these two important platforms were officially launched in Chongqing and Chengdu of China, and achieved great outcomes quickly. During the past two months, numerous vaccines and medical supplies have been unhinderedly sent to South Asian countries including, which have strongly supported the fight against pandemic in the region. In this process, we further realize that: Firstly, unity and cooperation is the only correct choice to overcome the pandemic. While facing great pressure on its own pandemic prevention and control, China established and launched the China-South Asia Emergency Supplies Reserve in just 70 days, only was to provide a new and important platform as well as the firmest and strongest support for regional countries to join hands in the fight against the pandemic and emergency cooperation as soon as possible. This fully demonstrates “China’s speed” and “China’s sincerity” in further promoting cooperation with South Asian countries. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, “The Covid-19 pandemic warned the world in a special form that human beings are a community of shared future, honor and disgrace. No country can be immune to major crises, and unity and cooperation are the correct way for the world.”

“Secondly, vaccine cooperation is a key weapon to defeat COVID-19. The six foreign ministers have repeatedly emphasized the key role of vaccines in the fight against the pandemic. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also stressed that only vaccines could stop the pandemic. As of early September, China has provided a total of about 120 million doses of vaccines to South Asian countries through various channels. Among them, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal have received 70 million, 22 million, 19 million, and 7.4 million doses respectively, and Pakistan and Bangladesh also have started local vaccine production with China’s support. On September 9th, President Xi Jinping announced at the BRICS Summit that on top of the 100 million U.S. dollars donation to COVAX, China will donate an additional 100 million doses of vaccines to fellow developing countries within this year. As a friendly neighbor of China, South Asia will undoubtedly benefit a lot.

“Thirdly, focusing on livelihood is a matter of urgent priority. In order to address the prominent challenges facing South Asian countries in the field of poverty reduction and development in the COVID-19 pandemic, China initiated the China-South Asian Countries Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center. The successful launching and operation of the center will play an effective role in gathering strength, pooling resources and promoting experience exchanges, thereby supporting the South Asian countries to improve economy and livelihood. It will promote poverty reduction and eradication, as well as enhance the well-being of the people of the region. The Foreign Ministers have also agreed to deepen Belt and Road cooperation, secure the industrial and supply chains, and strengthen collaboration in poverty reduction, food security and other fields. We will continue to actively put the above-mentioned outcomes into effect, while further enhancing the quality of the cooperation mechanism among us, to expand the areas of cooperation, achieve more visible results and better benefit our people.

“This Six Countries FMs’ Meeting Mechanism, as a new initiative, is open, inclusive, and mutually beneficial in its nature. Therefore, it always welcomes new members from the region. China hopes and believes that countries of the region will work together to develop, safeguard and fully utilize this mechanism. China firmly stands with the people of South Asia and always provides as much assistance as possible within its capacity. In July, President Xi Jinping in his speech at the APEC Informal Economic Leaders’ Retreat promised that China will provide another $3 billion international aid over the next three years to support the COVID-19 response and economic and social recovery in other developing countries. As long as the COVID-19 pandemic is haunting the world, China will not halt its efforts and assistance for global cooperation in defeating the pandemic.

“We are delighted to see that under the strong leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and with the joint efforts of its people of all ethnic groups, Sri Lanka has made world-renowned achievements in vaccination. We are also expecting the pandemic situation to improve in following days. China-Sri Lanka cooperation, being important part of China-South Asian cooperation, will certainly benefit from the regional cooperation. The Port City Colombo and the Hambantota Port and Industrial Park have attracted high interests from other South Asian countries including a Maldivian company to build yachts in Hambantota Port. More and more regional cooperative projects will be established in the future. China looks forward to joining hands with Sri Lanka and other regional countries in confronting and overcoming challenges, defeating COVID-19 pandemic and achieving greater and better development in this region.”



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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