Colombo, June 11 (newsin.asia): In the context of some dismay that China is not pitching in sufficiently to help Sri Lanka come out of the economic crisis which is marked by an unprecedented shortage of essentials, a top Chinese Foreign Ministry official told the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Beijing, that China will help ease Sri Lanka’s debt burden. But he hoped that Sri Lanka will follow an independent policy as it did when the landmark Rubber-Rice pact was signed in the early 1950s in the face of (Western) opposition.
The website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday that on June 9, the Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, Liu Jinsong, met Ambassador of Sri Lanka to China Dr. Palitha Kohona. “The two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on Sri Lanka’s economic and financial debt issues,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry website said.
Liu Jinsong said that 70 years ago, China and Sri Lanka upheld the spirit of independence, braved external pressure and reached the Rubber-Rice Pact on the basis of equal consultation and mutual benefits, breaking the Western ideological barriers and sanctions, opening the door to friendly exchanges and also setting an example of mutually beneficial cooperation between different types of countries.
Liu quoted the Buddhist Sigalovada Sutta which said: “True friends are the ones who stand by you when you need them” and pointed out that China and Sri Lanka have always been such friends.
“China is ready to work with Sri Lanka to draw wisdom from the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, carry forward the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact characterized by “independence, self-reliance, unity and mutual support”, jointly advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, implement the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative, and create a better future for the two countries and peoples, Liu said.
On Sri Lanka’s problem of debt servicing, the Chinese official said: “The reasons for Sri Lanka and other developing countries to fall into debt difficulties are very complex. One of the backgrounds is that certain developed countries have long implemented quantitative easing policies, irresponsibly unleashing a deluge of strong stimulus policies, and recently raised interest rates and shrunk the balance sheet abruptly, leading to drastic changes in the international financial environment, with developing countries particularly impacted.”
“Some countries imposed unilateral sanctions and tariff barriers and built various small cliques, which have undermined the security of global supply and industrial chains, and fueled the soaring prices of energy, food and other commodities, worsening the economic and financial situations of developing countries including Sri Lanka”
Liu further said: “China fully relates to the current difficulties faced by Sri Lanka and always provides assistance within its capacity. China immediately provided 500 million yuan of emergency humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka. The first batch of materials arrived on June 3. China’s local governments and enterprises as well as the Red Cross Society of China have all lent a helping hand to the Sri Lankan people by providing them with diversified aids in multiple batches that improve people’s lives. The Buddhist Association of China and temples in different places voluntarily raised funds for the Sri Lankan people, and teachers and students from Caihe No. 3 Primary School in Hangzhou also sent love to children from low-income families in Sri Lanka thousands of miles away.”
“China is ready to continue to work with Sri Lanka to jointly tackle risks and challenges and help Sri Lanka overcome the current difficulties, ease the debt burden and realize sustainable development. China believes that the wise and tenacious Sri Lankan people will stick to the independent domestic and foreign policies, and overcome difficulties together with confidence and in solidarity.”
In his comment Seri Lankan Ambassador Palitha Kohona said: “Sri Lanka has always pursued an independent and non-aligned foreign policy and opposed power politics and bloc confrontation. China-Sri Lanka friendship enjoys a time-honored history. China has provided full support and assistance in many important periods of Sri Lanka’s national development and is a reliable strategic partner of Sri Lanka. China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Chinese-funded projects have made important contributions to Sri Lanka’s economic development.”
“Sri Lanka thanks China for mobilizing all resources possible to provide emergency humanitarian assistance at the most difficult time in Sri Lanka, and hopes to continue to work with Chinese friends to tide over the difficulties.
“After the meeting, Ambassador Kohona presented to Director-General Liu Jinsong a sample commemorative album for the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Sri Lanka and China produced by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in China.”