The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing celebrated the 60th Anniversary of diplomatic relations, as well as the 65th Anniversary of economic relations between Sri Lanka and China on 31st October 2017 in Beijing with the participation of Hon. Tilak Marapana, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Chen Xiao Dong, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, and Ambassador of Sri Lanka to China Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku. The celebration was held at prestigious China World Hotel.
Welcoming the distinguished guests and appreciating Foreign MinisterMarapana’s participation at the event Ambassador Dr. Kodituwakku recalled the firm relations that have existed between China and Sri Lanka for the past 2000 years and stated that both countries have assisted each other, whenever the necessity arose. Citing his personal experience, Dr. Kodituwakku appreciated the friendly attachment of China to Sri Lanka and their awareness of Sri Lanka as a popular tourist destination. Recalling the historical relations as well as the contemporary warm friendship, the Ambassador expressed the hope that existing friendship would be further strengthened. The Ambassador also conveyed his sincere best wishes for the success of the new global role of China and to the leadership of the CPC, including core leader President Xi Jingping.
Addressing the gathering, Hon. Tilak Marapana, Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that he was honoured to be present in China during this month since it is jubilantly celebrating the 68th Anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China under the great leadership of Chairman Mao-Tse-Tung. He extended the good wishes of H.E. the president Maithripala Sirisena, the government and the people of Sri Lanka to the President, the Government and the people of the People’s Republic of China.
Recalling the historical ties between the two countries, the Minister highlighted the recognition of the People’s Republic of China in January 1950 and the “Rubber-Rice Pact” in 1952 as the milestones of flourishing bilateral relations. Hon. Minister further stated that the longstanding, close and friendly relations between the two countries are built on a solid foundation of historic, economic and cultural ties based on friendship, cooperation, mutual trust and understanding, and respect for each other’s territorial integrity.
The Minister identified the historical visits of former Premier Zhou En-Lai to Sri Lanka in 1957 and former Prime Minister Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike to China in 1961 and 1972 as being etched in eternal memories of the people of both countries. Speaking on the modern bilateral relations, Hon. Minister stated that the relations have expanded vigorously into multiple areas such as political, trade, investment, economic, technical, defence cooperation, and people to people contact through promotion of tourism. The visit of President Xi Jinping to Sri Lanka in 2014, and the visits to China by President Maithripala Sirisena in March 2015 and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe in April and August 2016 and May 2017 respectively were highlighted as adding much impetus to the relations between the two countries.
Minister Marapana said that China is the second largest source of tourist arrivals for Sri Lanka and the air connectivity has consolidated the strategies to further promote tourism. He also stated that the Belt and Road initiative will provide much connectivity in the Indian Ocean, which is required especially for rapid economic and social development in Sri Lanka. He extended Sri Lanka’s sincere gratitude to China for being a true and trusted friend and ally during the times of need such as relief assistance to the people of Sri Lanka affected by natural disasters. The Minister conveyed his best wishes to President Xi Jinping and for the continued prosperity and success of the people of the People’s Republic of China.
On behalf of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Chen Xiao Dong extended their warmest welcome to Foreign Minister Marapana on his official visit to China.
Recalling the long history of friendly exchanges between China and Sri Lanka Vice Minister Dong stated that “the tree of our friendship started to grow as early as over 2,000 years ago”. The visit of eminent Chinese monk Fahien to Sri Lanka to study Buddhism in the 5th century, the voyages of the Chinese navigator Zheng He’s to Sri Lanka during Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and the famous Agreement on Rice for Rubber in the 1950s, were mentioned as the icons of China-Sri Lanka relationship. He further stated that the establishment of diplomatic ties on 7 February 1957 opened a new chapter for China-Sri Lanka relations and over the past 60 years, there has been a steady progress in the relationship and fruitful outcomes of practical cooperation, bringing concrete benefits to two nations.
The Chinese Vice Minister said that the two countries forged a comprehensive cooperative partnership in 2005, which was elevated to a strategic cooperative partnership in 2013. The state visit of President Xi Jinping to Sri Lanka in 2014 was identified as an occasion which ushered the relationship into a new stage of development. Further, he appreciated the close communication and collaboration that has been maintained by the two countries so far in international and regional mechanisms and stated that the China-Sri Lanka “friendship tree” with deep roots and luxuriant leaves, is radiating with great vitality.
Recalling the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Vice Minister Dong thanked President Sirisena for the congratulatory message sent to President Xi Jinping on his re-election as General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee.
The Chinese Vice Minister stated that the Chinese people will never forget that when China was blockaded by the West, it was Sri Lanka that gave valuable support to China despite the tremendous pressure. He also stated that under the guidance of President Xi Jinping, China would like to work hand in hand with Sri Lanka in the spirit of sincere mutual assistance and ever-lasting friendship to create an even better future for China-Sri Lanka relationship.
Prominent Chinese artists, Chinese students who study Sinhala language at the Beijing Foreign Studies University and the Sri Lankan students who study in Chinese universities joint the Sri Lanka Army Cultural troupe in performing a Cultural programme at the ceremony. Awards of appreciation were presented to the sponsors of the celebrations and Chinese artists by the Embassy of Sri Lanka.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
01st November 2017