China has made a remarkable change in the international economic pattern to transfer its achievements to the global South for the betterment of mankind, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena says.
PM Gunawardena stated this on Wednesday (Aug. 16) in Kunming, China at the 7th China-South Asia Exhibition jointly organized by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the Yunnan State Government. He attended the event as the chief guest.
A total of 60 countries are participating in this giant trade exhibition, including all South and Southeast Asian countries as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP) member countries.
The exhibition includes 15 exhibition halls, including a biomedical and healthcare pavilion, a resource economic pavilion and a regional cooperation pavilion, with a total area of 150,000 square meters. This exhibition is scheduled to be held until August 20 under the theme of ‘Cooperation and Coordination for Development’.
State Ministers Tharaka Balasuriya, Janaka Wakkambura and Kanaka Herath, MPs Yadamini Gunawardena, and Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake, are accompanying PM Gunawardena during this visit.
Addressing the expo, PM Gunawardena commended Chinese President Xi Jinping for his tremendous leadership in the efforts to alleviate poverty and achieve economic growth.
Further, PM Gunawardena conveyed warm wishes to the officials of Yunnan Province for the success of China-South Asia Exposition, bringing a larger segment of Asian countries together. “This proudly speaks achievements in the backdrop of the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative.”
He said China and Sri Lanka have often regarded each other as good friends and a special relationship has existed between the two countries.
He acknowledged with gratitude the unwavering support rendered by China to Sri Lanka for national sovereignty and integrity and for continuing to stand by the island nation during challenging times.
“I would like to reiterate that Sri Lanka continues to uphold the ‘One China Policy’ in all spheres including bilateral and multilateral fora and I wish to affirm our commitment in this regard.”
Speaking further, the Sri Lankan prime minister recalled how China helped Sri Lanka during the devastating global Covid-19 pandemic and Sri Lanka’s recent economic crisis, through various humanitarian assistance, including RMB 500 million for fuel to farmers and fishermen, staple diet of rice to school students, and 70% of school uniform requirement for the year 2023.
“We acknowledge with appreciation that China has extended much-needed support in the debt restructuring process, which was essential to secure international support. We are confident that China will extend continued cooperation in the future towards Sri Lanka’s broader economic recovery.”
Speaking on major Chinese development projects in Sri Lanka including the Hambantota Port, Hambantota Industrial Zone, Mattala Airport, and Colombo Port City, PM Gunawardena said investments from China are critical to propelling Sri Lanka’s economy.
He also called for more governmental and private sector investment, trade, cooperation, and ventures into Sri Lanka.
With regard to Chinese tourist arrivals, PM Gunawardena said this has been one of the key strengths of the Sri Lankan tourism industry. He appreciated the announcement made in February this year by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism, placing Sri Lanka among the Top 20 countries for tourism.
Further, PM Gunawardena called for a joint effort between Sri Lanka and China to boost tourism.
“Let us not forget that This Century Belongs to Asia. This is Asia’s Century,” he added.
He went on to note that the continuous leadership of the Communist Party of China has guided China to emerge on the path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics as a true decisive global giant with a grand new era of development, especially in Asia, Africa, & Latin America, and towards the prosperity of all nations.