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Lanka declares China as its closest friend

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Sri Lanka and China could cooperate within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, turning the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port into two major engines to boost Sri Lanka’s economic development, pushing for the country’s industrialization, and enhancing the country’s capacity for independent development, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Wednesday, during a phone conversation.

The call was made on Gunawardena’s suggestion and Wang assured that the two countries are strategic cooperative partners of sincere mutual assistance and lasting friendship.

“Over the past year, the two countries joined hands to fight against the pandemic and supported each other, and their bilateral relations maintained a strong development momentum,” Minister Wang Yi said.

Noting that this year marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Wang said that China had won the victory in ending extreme poverty and achieved great results in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and would embark on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country.

“China’s development means a growing force for peace and the growth of developing countries, which will provide more development opportunities for developing countries, including Sri Lanka. We must make solid progress in cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, turning the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port into two major engines to boost Sri Lanka’s economic development, pushing for Sri Lanka’s industrialization, and enhancing the country’s capacity for independent development,” he said.

Minister Gunawardena said Sri Lanka regarded China as its closest friend and thanked China for its long-term assistance for Sri Lanka’s economic development, improvement of people’s livelihood, and dealing with internal and external challenges. The Sri Lankan FM highlighted that the Colombo Port City, Hambantota Port were key projects for Sri Lanka’s future development, and welcomed more Chinese investment, businessmen and tourists.

“Some Western countries, including the United States are using alleged human rights issues to intervene in the internal affairs of developing countries including Sri Lanka. They use the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council as a platform to exert pressure on developing nations. I hope that China will continue to uphold justice and stand with developing countries,” Gunawardena said.

Wang said that some Western countries are used to pressuring developing countries on the pretext of human rights, adding that China firmly opposed it, and was willing to unswervingly support Sri Lanka to jointly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, the basic norms governing international relations, and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter including non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

Gunawardena warmly congratulated China on the 100th anniversary of the CPC’s founding and that China had under the leadership of the CPC, completely lifted itself out of poverty, made great development achievements, and significantly improved the livelihood of its people.

Gunawardena said China had also led other countries on the way towards common development, and made vital contribution to human civilization. Sri Lanka appreciated China’s fair stance on human rights issues and was willing to join hands with China to safeguard fairness and justice in regional and international affairs. “Those allegations about Xinjiang and Hong Kong are just baseless. We steadily support China on the Xinjiang, Hong Kong related issues and the One-China Policy”, he added.

 

 



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Appointment of GM led to CEB chief’s resignation?

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By Ifham Nizam

Amidst further deterioration of the power crisis, the Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) M.M.C. Ferdinando has tendered his resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

In a letter to the President, the Attorney-at-Law said that he is quitting due to personal reasons. Ferdinando will resign as Chairman/Member of the Electricity Board with effect from Feb. 1.

Sources close to Ferdinando said that the incumbent CEB Chairman did not want to be in that position following the appointment of Eng. Dr. D.C.R. Abeysekera as CEB General Manager. Abeysekera received his letter of appointment from Ferdinando on Tuesday (25).

Abeysekera received the appointment at the expense of Dr. Susantha Perera, whose designation as the GM on a temporary basis was resisted by the engineers’ union as he is a retiree.

Retired public servant Ferdinando was brought in as the CEB Chairman on July 19, last year soon after Sri Lanka entered into what was called a framework agreement with the US energy firm, New Fortress Energy. The agreement now challenged in the Supreme Court was finalised on 17 Sept, last year with Ferdinando endorsing it as an Advisor to the Finance Ministry.

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UK indicates sanctions against Lanka military

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By Shamindra Ferdinnado

Close on the heels of UK Foreign Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad’s three-day visit here, the House of Commons has been told that measures were being contemplated as regards the Sri Lankan military.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Minister Amanda Milling has told Parliament that the government regularly engaged with the US and other partners on issues relating to Sri Lanka. She has further said: “The UK government keeps all evidence and potential designations under the UK Global Human Rights sanctions regime under close review, guided by the objectives of the sanctions regime. We would not normally speculate about future sanctions targets, as to do so could reduce their impact.”

The Conservative Party member was responding to Labour Party’s Siobhain McDonagh on Tuesday (25). MP Milling was responding to a query McDonagh posed to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Elizabeth Truss, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the sanctions imposed by the US on General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan army.

The US in Feb 2020 imposed a travel ban on General Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Recently, the US extended its action against the Sri Lankan military by issuing travel ban on retired Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera.

The UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has commended the British stand.

Concerned Lankan military sources said that the UK in its capacity as the leader of Sri Lanka Core Group at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was planning further measures ahead of the next human rights sessions.

UK based sources told The Island that that type of written parliamentary question was usually answered by a government minister from the FCDO.

Sources explained as this particular question dealt with Sri Lanka, the minister responsible was Lord Tariq Ahmad, but as he represented the House of Lords he couldn’t make statements in the Commons chamber.

Sources added that it would be rare that a question on Sri Lanka would be directly responded to by the Foreign Secretary Truss

Commons member Amanda Milling is Minister of State for Asia, therefore her portfolio closely matches Tariq Ahmad’s brief.

Incidentally, the FCDO now has a British Tamil in a senior position. Maya Sivagnanam is South Asia Deputy Director for the Indian Ocean Region at the FCDO.

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JCPSM token strike cripples hospitals in Western Province

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Strikers want Health Ministry to solve their problems within 10 days

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (JCPSM) launched a 24-hour token strike yesterday (26) at 7 am at all hospitals in the Western Province. It consists of 16 unions.

The JCPSM has urged the government to address its members’s grievances including salary anomalies and issues related promotions. The strike had crippled hospitals in the province, Health Ministry sources said.

The JCPSM said emergency care, essential services and the treatment of COVID patients had not been affected by the strike.

President of the Government Nurses’ Association and former UNP National List MP Saman Rathnapriya said they had been urging the government to solve their problems for the past two months.

The College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) President, Ravi Kumudesh told The Island that they would end the token strike by 7 am today m(27) and thereafter give the government 10 days to address their demands.

“We will launch a continuous strike if the demands are not met within 10 days,” he said.

President of the Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) Dr. Rukshan Bellana said that most unions seemed to have lost the ability to solve disputes through negotiations.

“The unions have become too politicised, and the people are suffering as a result.”

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