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Premier Rajapaksa explains why China is such a good friend



China had never sought to impose its own political views on the world, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Tuesday (6) addressing a virtual conference conducted to mark the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

China has also never felt the need to manipulate the affairs of other countries and it had always helped the other countries, treating them as equals, Rajapaksa said.

“This is especially important for a country’s independence as well as its sovereignty. Therefore, countries never hesitated to deal with China, because they are allowed to maintain their independence. It is the same for Sri Lanka. That is why most doors of the world were opened to China. This policy is very important for the progress of China, internationally. It has now become clear that China will lead the rise of Asia in the century ahead,” he said.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said that no one in the Global South was interested in dividing the world into two camps and that China had done a historic service to relieve the suffering of Asian and African countries.

“It was China that helped the world, which was facing difficulties due to the division of the world into two camps. At that time, Zhou Enlai brought the idea of non-aligned nations to the world, for world relief. That non-aligned policy is still a relief to the world today,” he said.

The Premier also said that the Belt and Road Initiative was not something alien to Sri Lanka, which was a part of the ancient Silk Road connecting China with Europe.

Given below are excerpts of the speech: “I wish to express my warmest felicitations together with the people of my country on the occasion of the 100-year anniversary of the Communist Party of China.

“The honour of this historical relationship China has had with us is also included in this felicitation.

China has been a historical friend. And, based on our long-standing cooperation, we must acknowledge that China is one of our most sincere friends.

“To celebrate both the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China as well as the

long-standing diplomatic relations between China and Sri Lanka, we have taken steps to issue a

commemorative coin. It has now been 72 years since the CPC converted China into a Red China.

“Sri Lanka established Diplomatic Relations with the Chinese Government back in 1957. However, the leftist parties of our country have had relations with the CPC even before that. The Communist Party of Sri Lanka, in particular, has had relations with the Communist Party of China since the 1940s. I am pleased to say that we have been able to maintain good relations with the CPC because Sri Lankans also value equality and brotherhood.

“The Communist Party of China is currently the world’s largest political party, which has delivered a very important message to the world on foreign relations for the past 70 years. I am aware that it was the foreign policy positions of the CPC that elevated China on the global stage. However, China has never tried to impose its own political views on the world.

“China has also never felt the need to manipulate the affairs of other countries. China has helped

the other countries, keeping them at the same level, which is a very important matter for a country’s independence as well as its sovereignty. Therefore, countries never hesitated to deal with China, because they were allowed to maintain their independence. It is the same for Sri Lanka. That is why most doors of the world were opened to China. This policy is very important for the progress of China, internationally. It has now become clear that China will lead the rise of

Asia in the century ahead.

“The open economy has spread throughout the world, changing the very structure of many countries. “However, China accepted the open economy in a way that was suitable to China. Therefore, China did not accept the open economy as something that divides the country into classes and weakens the country. Instead, China has successfully eradicated poverty of 900 million people under its open economic policy and set a great example to the world by the way it adopted the open economy. I am confident that, China will bring back the economic strength that Asia had five hundred years ago through this Silk Road.

“China always believed that improving infrastructure will provide new ways and new strengths for the people. Therefore, we have constantly invited China to help develop the infrastructure of our country. China has also pledged to become a carbon neutral country by 2060. Therefore, countries on the Silk Road, which make use of the investments from China, will also have to work with a similar objective, not only to make countries carbon neutral but also for countries around the Indian Ocean to be free of pollution.

“I must also express my gratitude to China for the development and generous donations of the Sinopharm vaccine. The CPC set an example to the world by producing the vaccine and sharing it with the world. The motto of the World Health Organisation in the face of this epidemic was that everyone should be vaccinated, whether rich or poor. In this context, it is further admirable that China has given approval for the production of the Sinopharm vaccine in countries like ours. During a global pandemic such as this, decisions initiated by the CPC will be respected as those taken for the benefit of humanity.”

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Police detain Bathiudeen’s wife, father-in-law and another suspect over domestic aide’s death



Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen’s wife, father-in-law and another suspect have been detained for interrogation in connection with the death of the 16-year old domestic aide.

“They are being held for 72 hours for further questioning”, police said.

The suspects taken into custody were identified by police as that 46-year old Sheyabdeen Ayesha, her father  70-year-old Mohammed Sheyabdeen and the broker who brought the girl to work as a domestic aide in Bathiudeen’s house.

The victim, a resident of Dayagama Estate off Talawakelle, was admitted to the Colombo National Hospital on July 3 with severe burn injuries. She died on July 15.

Police have already recorded the statements of more than 20 persons in connection with the girl’s death.

Police have also questioned two women aged 22 and 32 from the Dayagama area, who earlier served as domestic workers at the former Minister’s house.

One of the women had claimed she was sexually harassed by Bathiudeen’s brother-in-law from 2015 to 2019 at the former Minister’s residence in Colombo.

Subsequently, police also arrested the 44-year old Sheyabdeen Ismadeen, brother-in-law of the former Minister.

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Contamination fears propel Lanka Sathosa to recall Chinese-made canned fish stocks



After procurement from Colombo port for Rs. 50mn

by Suresh Perera

A substantial stock of “confiscated” canned fish Lanka Sathosa procured from the Colombo port at a cost of around Rs. 50 million has been recalled from the market following public complaints that the Chinese-manufactured products were unfit for human consumption.

The five 20-foot container loads of 425g ‘Kitchen King’ Mackerel canned fish of the Scomber japonicus species, which were lying in the Colombo port as “abandoned cargo” after forfeiture by the Customs in October last year, was purchased by Lanka Sathosa recently to be sold at a concessionary price through its chain of supermarkets.

“We have now withdrawn the whole stock from our supermarket shelves as there were customer complaints that the canned fish was not fit for consumption”, says Lanka Sathosa Chairman, Rear Admiral (Retd) Ananda Peiris.

The products were injected into the market after clearance by the Food Control Unit of the Health Ministry following quality testing by the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI), he said.

“As there’s a shortage of canned fish in the marketplace, we promptly distributed the stocks to our supermarkets island-wide to be sold at Rs. 290 each. We have now asked the outlets not to sell them to customers because of the quality issue that has emerged”, the Chairman noted.

“We have no option now other than to return the consignment and seek a refund from the Ports Authority”, he said.

Onions, potatoes, lentils and other food commodities, which are either confiscated by the Customs or remain uncleared by importers, are generally procured by Lanka Sathosa to be sold at concessionary prices to customers, Peiris explained.

“In terms of a Cabinet decision, the consignments are auctioned only if we don’t procure them”.

The stock of canned fish had been forfeited as the owner had not cleared it for three months, he said.

“Lanka Sathosa appears to have opened a can of worms as the 9,200 packs of canned fish had arrived aboard a vessel, which sailed into Colombo on October 29 last year, a source knowledgeable of the operation, said.

Listing out the relevant reference and batch numbers of the consignments, the source said the Chinese products were manufactured on 09/10/2020 with a 09/10/2023 ‘expiry date’.

This means the stocks had been in the Colombo port for the past nine months, and had turned rancid despite a 2023 ‘expiry date’, the source asserted.

Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) officers had raided the Lanka Sathosa outlet at Moneragala following complaints that canned fish was being hoarded.

“We found stocks in storage, but was told by officers there that instructions were received to withhold the sale of the ‘Kitchen King’ products until they were re-labeled”, CAA’s Executive Director, Thushan Gunawardena said.

As the importer was not in favor of Lanka Sathosa marketing the products under its original brand name, a sticker was affixed to obscure it, Peiris clarified.

Under Section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act, re-labeling a product constitutes an offence, Gunawardena pointed out.

Acting on a complaint, public health inspectors have taken a sample of the canned fish from the Mawanella outlet for testing, the Lanka Sathosa chief further said.

Responding to questions raised by the CAA, the SLSI said its officers had collected samples from the five containers following requests by the Ports Authority and Lanka Sathosa.

As the original importer had not submitted any documents to the SLSI so far, the need for sample collection didn’t arise, it said.

The CAA has further queried whether the SLSI was aware of the purpose the test results were required at the time samples were received.

The SLSI has clamped down on the import of substandard canned fish with an intolerable level of arsenic, particularly from manufacturers in China.

In a news report headlined “SLSI cracks the whip on substandard Chinese canned fish imports”, The Sunday Island of March 21, 2021 quoted the institution’s Director-General, Dr. Siddhika Senaratne as saying that fish harvested for canning has a high arsenic content as the sea in China is heavily polluted and dirty due to lax environmental laws.

“It is true that there is a scarcity of canned fish in the market because supply cannot meet the demand. However, this does not mean we should allow our people to be poisoned through arsenic-laden imports”, she was quoted saying in the news report.

With the SLSI stipulating a maximum arsenic tolerance standard of 1.0 milligram per kilogram of fish, a filtering mechanism is now in place to shut out substandard imports, she assured at the time.

Asked whether the consignment of Chinese canned fish procured by Lanka Sathosa was earlier detained due to its high arsenic content, Dr. Senaratne declined comment saying she’s “not allowed to talk to the media”.

“The DG wouldn’t want to be dragged into another controversy”, an official remarked, referring to the furore over her claim of toxins in foodstuffs, which she, however, declined to identify at the time.

At a time canned fish imports from China have been off the shelves since SLSI’s rigid monitoring of tolerable arsenic levels began, industry players expressed consternation on how a stock, which had been lying in the Colombo port for months, was suddenly given the nod for procurement by Lanka Sathosa.

With the scarcity of canned fish products in the market pushing up demand, will an importer abandon his consignments unless there was something rotten somewhere?, they asked.

“It is too far-fetched to imagine that they got the documentation wrong as these importers are seasoned campaigners in the game”.

It is apparent that Lanka Sathosa had not done its homework before jumping at the idea of procuring the consignment because Chinese-made canned fish had remained virtually out of bounds for many months because of fears of contamination, they said.

Importers didn’t want to risk their investments as a high arsenic level meant the consignments were either destroyed or ordered to be re-exported, they added.

“That’s why local products now dominate the market with a brand from Thailand also no longer available”.



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United States gives Sri Lanka 500,000 coronavirus rapid tests



The United States had donated 500,000 Rapid diagnostic tests to Sri Lanka worth Rs. 300 million to help the country fight Coronavirus, the US Agency for International Development said.

“By enabling rapid detection of the virus, these tests donated by the American people will save lives and protect public health in Sri Lanka,” USAID Mission Director to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Reed Aeschliman said in a statement.

“This donation builds on previous U.S. support to the Sri Lankan government’s pandemic response and reflects our strong, long-standing partnership.”

US has also given 1.5 million moderna vaccines to Sri Lanka.

The tests are simple to use and enable fast, decentralized access to direct testing. They do not require additional equipment or specialized laboratory access, which helps achieve high testing coverage.

The United States has also given of 200 ventilators to Sri Lanka’s health system.

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