By Shihar Aneez/ECONOMYNEXT
Colombo, November 8: The Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka visited the island nation’s Northern province which is close to South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and invited the locals to export sea foods to China while assuring that Beijing will not export any fisheries products to the province.
India has become increasingly concerned over China’s expansion into the Northern province and had convinced Sri Lankan government to cancel three renewable energy projects in the North granted for Beijing, government officials have said.
China has been assisting for sea cucumber farming for Jaffna fishermen, whose livelihood is hit by bottom trawling and encroachment of Indian fishermen.
In his second visit to the North, Ambassador Qi Zhenhong donated food packs, fishing gears, and houses to Northern people, mainly ethnic minority Tamils who are culturally close to South India.
“No matter what kind of challenges and difficulties you face, the Chinese people will firmly stand with you, no matter in the past, now or in the future,” Qi Zhenhong told a public gathering at district secretariat in the former war zone of Jaffa district.
“The Chinese government has a promise to continue to provide support,” he said adding that Beijing has decided to donate each 5 million rupee worth of food packs, fishing gears, and houses for Northern people.
SEA FOOD EXPORT TO CHINA
China has already started exporting sea cucumber from Jaffna fishermen and the Ambassador promised to buy more from Northern fishermen in the future.
“No Chinese fish export to Sri Lanka, specially to Northern province,” he said referring to sea food imports by Sri Lanka from China
“China is the second largest economy. We have a huge market. We warmly welcome Sri Lanka competitive product exports to China.”
“We have a great potential… Chinese investors, China entrepreneurs have great interest to come to the Northern province. I hope Northern province also warmly welcome China investors and tourists to come to the Northern province.”
Qi Zhenhong’s visit comes two days after Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s official visit to Jaffna.
People in Jaffna said initially there were some hesitations over Chinese ambassador’s visit to the North.
“But he came with food packs and some fishing gears. People need those goods in the current extremely difficult conditions,” a Jaffna based civilian told EconomyNext asking not to be named.
“So, nobody rejected the Chinese ambassador. It would be even possible China winning the minds of dJaffna people though buying their sea food for exports.”
The Chinese Embassy in Colombo separately said three donation ceremonies were held in the three districts of North with each district receiving 500 boxes of dry rations worth 7,500 rupees each ($23) and another Project, 5000 boxes worth 37.5 million rupees will be distributed to the needy in the Northern Province.