Lin Songtian

Lin Songtian is a Chinese Diplomat and the current President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. Born in Fujian Province in May 1960, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in 1986 after graduation. He severed as the Director General, Department of African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China before appointing as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa(deputy ministerial level)where he worked from 2017-2020.

Exclusive: Sino-Lanka Everlasting Friendship for Greater Rejuvenation

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The following essay is based on the speech made by the author at the Parliament of Sri Lanka recently, during his maiden official visit to Sri Lanka

Thank you for your invitation and it is my great honor to deliver a speech about Chinese path to Modernization and Sri Lanka China Common Prosperity here in the Sri Lanka parliament.

This is my first visit abroad since assuming office as President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), and I choose Sri Lanka for special reasons:

——We come here for our ever-lasting friendship. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact. In the 1950s, China as a newly founded people’s republic, was facing strict blockade of import by the West and Sri Lanka was facing serious economic difficulties as a result of both a crop failure of rice and the West’s control of rubber export. Under this circumstances, China and Sri Lanka came to the consensus of the Rubber-Rice Pact, which reflects the true meaning of South-South Cooperation and is the symbol of the two countries’ traditional friendship. We hope this visit will strengthen and enrich our ever lasting friendship.

——We come here for win-win cooperation for common development. Development is the key to solve all problems. Nine years ago, President Xi Jinping proposed the “Belt and Road” initiative for building a better world for all. It has now become one of the most popular international public goods and the most extensive international cooperation platform. Sri Lanka is the pearl on the Indian Ocean and an important hub along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Now it is time for us to uphold the principle of Extensive consultation, Joint contribution, Shared benefits, and commit to the “Five-Pronged Approach”(Policy Coordination, Connectivity of Infrastructure , Unimpeded Trade, Financial Integration and People-to-People Exchanges)and the hard connectivity of infrastructure, soft connectivity of laws and regulations and heart to heart connectivity of people-to-people friendship, translating our traditional friendship into win-win cooperation for common development.

——We come here for the better future of the people. China has achieved the First Centenary Goal to get out of poverty in all respects and is marching on a new journey to modernization. China has the strong commitment, ability, experience to share all we have with our Sri Lanka friend to achieve common prosperity. The main purpose of my first visit to Sri Lanka is to learn who you are?what do you have? what do you need and Where can we go something together for a shared future of our two countries and two peoples.

Now, I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my views and ideas about China,and the Chinese path to Modernization and where for us to go together in the future for China Sri Lanka win-win cooperation.

  1. Who is China?

——China is Old and Young

• An ancient civilization of more than 5000 years history with Four Great Inventions of printing, paper making, compass and gun powder.

• A young republic of 73 years and 44 years of reform and opening -up to the outside world.

——China is Big and Small

• Over 1.4 billion population with 56 ethnic groups.

• No.3 land size of 9.6 million square km, but less than 1/3 of world average in per capita arable land.

• 17.7 trillion USD GDP in 2021 but every achievement we made shared by over 1.4 billion population is small.

——China is Not Developed but Very Promising

• Per capita GDP 125,50 USD in 2021. Ranking 68th in the world according to the World Bank.

• In most of the ancient times, China was the biggest economy in the world.

• In 1820, China’s GDP accounts 1/3 of the world.

•But unfortunately to say that we closed our eyes and felt sleep when the western industrial revolutions took places. In 1840, China felt into a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country after the Opium War.

• In 1921, founding of CPC and changed the destiny of the Chinese Nation.

• In 1949, founding of the PRC, China’s GDP was only 17.9 billion USD.

• In 1978, China’s reform and opening-up. China’s GDP was 149.5 billion USD( 1.79% of the world, 6.33% of the US, 14.8% of Japan).

• In 2001, China joined the WTO. China’s GDP was 1.34 trillion USD( 4% of the world, 12.7% of the US, 31.2% of Japan).

• In 2010, a year of great significance, China’ GDP was 6.09 trillion USD(9.2% of the world, 40.6% of the US), surpassed Japan as the 2nd largest economy.( 2014_2021)

• In the past 10 years of the New Era, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has made historic achievements in development and undergone historic changes in the country:

  • China’s GDP has increased by 126% compared with 2012, reached 17.7 trillion USD in 2021(18.5% of the world economy, 77% of the US, 356.7% of Japan), contributing over 30% to the world economic growth annually, more than the combined contribution of all developed countries including the US, the EU and Japan. China has become the largest trade partners with over 140 countries and regions, become one of the largest FDI destination and one of the largest sources of FDI and tourists worldwide.
  • China has applied a new development philosophy. Historically, China felt sleep and missed the chance during the 1st and 2nd industrial revolution, and wake up to follow up in the 3rd industrial revolution. But in the New Era now, China has been catching up and among the first square in the 4th industrial revolution with the lead in 5G, AI and New Infrastructures.
  • China has lifted the last 100 million rural population out of poverty, having made sure more than 1.4 billion people have all gotten out of poverty, leaving no one behind and fared-welling to famine, poverty, war, homelessness and pandemic.
  • China has translated the philosophy of clear water and green mountains as better as gold mountain into reality, contributing 1/4 of the total newly added forest coverage in the world. With strict law enforcement,Air, land and water pollution are forbidden. 
  • China waged a battle against corruption on unprecedented a scale and have achieved an overwhelming victory and fully consolidated the gains in our fight against corruption. According to an opinion poll done by the Harvard University for over 10 years, the Chinese people’s approval rate for the CPC and Chinese government has been maintained over 90%, topped all the world.
  1. Why can China make such great success?

In China, it is our common belief that the key for success is Unity and Stability for Common Prosperity, andhow to get there? At least, there are 3 main reasons worth of mentioning:

(1) Upholding the strong leadership of the CPC and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics                                                                                                                                                                             

• Socialism with Chinese Characteristics not only kept the essence of socialism which is strive for common prosperity, but also solved the question of how to fully leverage the decisive role of the market in allocating resources and give a better play to the role of the government. Adhering to Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, with concerted efforts of the Party, government and people, China has created the 2 miracles of rapid economic development and long term social stability.

• The CPC was founded by the people and is the party of the people, by the people and for the people, always putting people first, the CPC has no selfish interest except the fundamental interests of the nation, country and the majority of the people. It is only such a selfless party that can unite the whole nation as one to the right road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and make sure all the achievement and progress China makes shall be shared by all instead of few and get the true supports from the majority people.        

•There are 2 vivid examples of the CPC’s people-centered philosophy of development:

One is the fight against poverty. Under the leadership of the CPC, China gives full play of the superiority of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, alleviated over 850 million people out of poverty, contributing 70% of the world’s total poverty reduction and achieved the poverty reduction goal of the UN SDGs 10 years ahead of schedule. In the past 10 years in particular, under the strong leadership of Pres. Xi Jinping, China has won the war against absolute poverty and got almost 100 million people out of absolute poverty and make sure that the total population of over 1.4 billion in China out of poverty,left no one behind.

The other is the fight against Covid-19. In responding to the sudden outbreak of Covid-19, the CPC and the Chinese government  insist putting the people and their life above all else, tenaciously pursued a dynamic zero-Covid policy, China has the lowest Covid-19 incidence rate and death toll among the world’s major countries. It is estimated that if adopting to a lie flat policy as the west and US, China’s Covid-19 incidence will reach over 100 million with 1.55 million death.

(2) Adhering to the reform and opening up policy

It is well known that since 1978, China has adopted to the policy of economic reform and opening up to the outside world.

How to develop China? Reform ourselves and open up to the outside world——Why? We need jobs and well being for our people—To develop our country, we need capital input, technology and know-how.

We believe that only economic development can solve all the issues we had and will have.

We believe that only internal and external investment leads to production, only production can create jobs and promote development. Only development leads to a good life for the people.

We also believe grants can survive a country but cannot sustain country’s development, only foreign investment project can create jobs for our people and sustain our economic growth. We also believe that one foreign investment project is one vocational-technical school to train our people and drive our economy to growth.

But how to attract foreign investment to a poor country like China at that time, China is a socialist country to open to capitalist. We have had a lot of concerns and arguments.And we are so lucky to have the Chief Engineer of reform and opening up, Mr Deng Xiaoping.He said, poverty does not belong to socialism, it doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.  

China opened the chapter of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Economic Development become the central task of the CPC since then on.

We have kept reforming ourselves, including our minds, policies, laws and systems of the planned economy that did not fit the market economy nor foreign investors, and opening up to the outside world, so as to make sure the investors’ interests being protected and more coming to China.

In 1980, the 1st Special Economic Zone in China was launched in the city of Shenzhen, a small fishing village at that time, now a big metropolis with more than 17.68 million population and the GDP of 481 billion USD surpassing Hong Kong (368 billion USD).  

From 4 Special Economic Zones (Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, Xiamen) to 14 Coastal Open Cities (1991), WTO (2001) and to now 21 Pilot Free Trade Zones nationwide and the Hainan Free Trade Port.

How to attract the foreign investment and keep them stay well? To attract the foreign investors, some of their concerns shall be answered.

Business is Business. As we know that investors look like flying birds in the sky, they are looking food to survive and safe places to live.

Preferential Policies &Law Enforcement (Legislation):

In our development process, it is the preferential policies to attract them to come and it’s the laws and Law Enforcement to ensure the investors here is safe for long term development (Legislation is very important)

Now China has the implementation of Foreign Investment Law and the Pre-establishment National Treatment (PENT) with a negative list for foreign investment, to make sure the lawful interests of foreign investors fully protected.

Foreign exchange: lack of foreign reserve and intensively controlled —from a highly controlled foreign exchange management system to the realization of convertibility of Current Account, enabling all the investment & profit been remitted inward or outward China in RMB or foreign currency.

Visas permit: from a single-entry visa for 3 months to multiple entry visa for 3 month/6 months/1 year, to permanent work permit and the permanent residence permit (Chinese Green Card).

Muti-lateral and bilateral free trade arrangements: From joining the WTO to RCEP, China has signed 19 free trade agreements with 26 nations and regions.  

(3) Sticking to the path of peaceful development and seeking for Win-win cooperation for common development

The love of peace is in the soul and blood of the Chinese nation. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said: No matter how strong a country might be, the aspiration of war will definitely lead to its ruin.The Chinese people are the peace loving one.

After the Opium War, China has been invaded by the western powers and our people keep the memory of being bullied and cherish the value of peace.

Based on the traditional Chinese culture of peace and harmony and Chinese people’s sincere hope for a better world, President Xi Jinping proposed the initiative of Building a Human Community with a Shared Future and 3 approaches to realize this grand vision of building a better world for our future generations:

• The first approach is to hold high Humanity’s Shared Values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom, advancing Whole-Process People’s Democracy, and building a New Type of International Relations. So far, China has established diplomatic relations with 181 countries world wide.

The second approach is to carry out the Belt and Road Initiative and Global Development Initiative so as to achieve win-win cooperation for common development. China has signed over 200 agreements or MoUs with 149 countries and 32 international organizations. More than 60 countries have joined the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative. The value of trade in goods between China and the Belt and Road countries exceeds 12 trillion USD. It is reckoned by the World bank that from 2015 to 2030, the Belt and Road Initiative may contribute 1.6 trillion USD to the world and help 40 million people out of poverty.

• The third approach is adhering to the New Vision of Security featuring common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and implement the Global Security Initiative, to build a world of lasting peace and universal security, common prosperity, openness and inclusiveness, justice and equity, cleanness and beauty.

With a strong leadership, unity and stability, economic, social and technological foundation, especially nationwide networks of the modern infrastructures, China gets read to grow faster and run well, providing a new option for our fellow emerging markets and developing countries.

Ⅲ. Where for China to go?

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which attracts worldwide attention, has come to a successful conclusion recently. As a Party delegate, I’m honored to participated in the congress.

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is a meeting of great importance,make it clear the road map and blueprint on Where for China to go and how to get there. The meeting has three major important achievements:

The Most Important Achievement is Comrade Xi Jinping was re-elected unanimously as the General Secretary of the Party Central Committee and the new ideas, new concepts and new perspectives of Xi Jinping Though on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has been written into the Party Constitution. Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole has been established and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has been defined as the guidance of the Party.

This reflects the whole party and nation’s appreciation of the historic achievements and great changes in the past ten years and their expectations for Comrade Xi Jinping to steer the giant ship of China’s rejuvenation through the wind and waves to strive in unity to build China into a modern socialist country in all respects.

The 2nd Important Achievement is the Congress has determined the central task for the CPC for next 5 years and beyond, which is to lead the Chinese people of all ethnic groups in a concerted effort to realize the Second Centenary Goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects and to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization.

Chinese modernization is socialist modernization pursued under the leadership of the CPC. It not only contains elements that are common to the modernization processes of the all countries, but is more characterized by features that are unique to the Chinese context.

——It is the modernization of a huge population. China is working to achieve modernization for more than 1.4 billion people, a number larger than the combined population of all developed countries in the world today.

——It is the modernization of common prosperity for all. Achieving common prosperity is a defining feature of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and the goal of our modernization drive is to bring prosperity for all and prevent social polarization in order to meet the people’s aspirations for a better life.

——It is the modernization of material and cultural-ethical advancement. We will both lay a solid material foundation for our people’s life and a culture of conviction and confidence for our people’s souls, in order to promote all-round material abundance as well as people’s well-rounded developments.

——It is the modernization of harmony between humanity and nature. As Pres. Xi tells us that Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. We shall protect the nature as our own eyes and pursue a sound development path with higher production levels, better living standards and healthier ecosystems to ensure the sustainable development of the Chinese nation.

——It is the modernization of peaceful development. In pursuing modernization, China sticks to following a new path of peace, win-win cooperation for common development, instead of the old path of war, colonization, or plunder. We believe peaceful development is the keys to China’s achievements and development and we will never follow the old and disastrous roads as the west did.

The 3rd Important Achievement is that the Congress has draw the blue print and principles, new philosophy and approaches to realize the Chinese Modernization.

——To realize the Chinese Modernization, we shall adopt a two-step strategic plan: Basically realize socialist modernization from 2020 through 2035; Build China into a great modern socialist country from 2035 through the middle of this century, that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful

——To realize the Chinese Modernization, we must, first and foremost, pursue high-quality development. Development is our Party’s top priority in governing and rejuvenating China, because without solid material and technological foundations, we cannot hope to build a great modern socialist country in all respects.

——To realize the Chinese Modernization, we must follow the worldview and methodology of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era with the following 6 Musts as its core:

⦁ We must put the people first.

⦁ We must maintain self-confidence and stand on our own feet.

⦁ We must uphold fundamental principles and break new ground.

⦁ We must adopt a problem-oriented approach.

⦁ We must apply systemic thinking.

⦁ We must maintain a global vision.

. How to transform our traditional friendship into win-win cooperation for common development?

【In the report of the 20th National Congress of the CPC,  General Secretary Xi Jinping elaborated the founding mission of the CPC in the full context: it is dedicated to pursuing happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation and it is also dedicated to human progress and world harmony.】

Lin Songtian, President of the CPAFFC, talking to the Parliamentarians during the event at the Parliament of Sri Lanka [ Photo: Sri Lanka Parliament/ Sri Lanka Guardian]

The 20th National Congress of the CPC not only opened the chapter of the New Journey of the New Era for China, but also provided New Opportunities and New Options for other countries especially friendly countries like Sri Lanka.

The CPAFFC is China’s national people’s organization engaged in people-to-people diplomacy, featuring “Four Friendships”, namely friendship cities, friendship associations, friendship organizations and friendship personnel.

Its mandate is to give full play to people-to-people diplomacy, mobilizing non-governmental resources to promote mutual understanding, friendship and win-win cooperation between Chinese people and people from other countries.

Next step, we will work together with our Sri Lanka friends to focus on some priority areas, as following:

——Personnel exchanges. Seeing is believing.We will build a platform for exchanges and cooperation between the our two peoples, displaying the essence and fruits of the traditional friendship between China and Sri Lanka and promoting people-to-people exchanges in key areas such as parliament, local government, youth, think tanks, and media to promote and enhance mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples.

——Capacity building. Through “receiving friends in” and “sending professional personnel out”, carry out activities for capacity building. For example, we will try to organize the Chinese young and professional poverty relief cadres to Sri Lanka to stay and have a deep study tour to the village or local governments, look for ways out to fight against poverty. We will also try to organize experts from the National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC) and local DRCs to Sri Lanka to study its national development plans, policies and government services, so as to help promote Sri Lanka to Chinese business and interested parties.

——Win-win cooperation. The CPAFFC is willing to work closely with the Sri Lanka Embassy to China and Sri Lanka friendship organizations to hold promotions and functions for Sri Lanka’s goods, resources, development plans, favorable policies for FDI and government services, so as to encourage and attract more Chinese businesses to invest in Sri Lanka.

——Give full play to friendship cities. China and Sri Lanka currently have 11 pairs of friendship cities. The CPAFFC is willing to:

⦁ further promote exchanges and cooperation between local governments, friendship cities in particular, in the fields of culture, education, tourism, public health, and vocational technical schools in particular etc.

⦁ help to set up new friendship city relations on the premise of complementary and sustainability.

⦁ enrich the content of cooperation between friendship cities, and making friendship city a bridge and a binding force for mutual understanding, friendship and trust between people s of China and Sri Lanka.

To my conclusion, let us to work together to bring our everlasting friendship to a new high and bring more benefits to our two peoples. Thank you all for your attention and hospitality.

Exclusive: Reaffirming our Unswervingly Stand with Sri Lanka

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Following excerpts adapted from the speech by the author as the President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) at the event celebrates the 73rd Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China Hosted by five major friendship organizations work for enhancing Sri Lanka – China friendship.

It is my great honour to be invited to attend the reception hosted by five Sri Lanka friendship organizations with China celebrating the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. On this occasion, I would like to extend, on behalf of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), my cordial greetings and best wishes to the brotherly people of Sri Lanka, and express my heartfelt thanks and high respect to friends from all walks of life who have been long committed to China Sri Lanka friendship.

This year is an important year for both China and Sri Lanka to commemorate.70 years ago, China and Sri Lanka, two newly born countries, overcame difficulties and obstacles and signed the Rubber-Rice Pact, opening the door for friendly exchanges. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 65 years ago, the governments of China and Sri Lanka have always abided by the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, treating each other with equality, mutual trust and sincerity. The two sides understand, respect and help each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns and firmly safeguard our respective and common interests.

Last year marked the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. President Xi Jinping solemnly declared that through the concerted efforts of the Chinese government and people, China has won the fight against poverty on schedule, achieved the first centenary goal on schedule, and built a moderately prosperous society in all respects on schedule. The 1.4 billion people have been lifted from absolute poverty and embarked on the socialist modernization path of common prosperity for all.

Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, China has created two miracles, namely rapid economic development and long-term social stability, which have not only benefited the Chinese people, who account for nearly 20% of the world’s total population, but also provided new options and more cooperation opportunities for developing countries including Sri Lanka. China has become an important force in safeguarding world peace and promoting common development.

For building a better world, President Xi Jinping has put forward the important concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind, as well as new ideas and measures such as the “Belt and Road” Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, and the Global Security Initiative. With the vision of new development, China is committed to win-win cooperation for common development with all countries.

We are pleased to see that important progress has been made in the cooperation of the Belt and Road Initiative under the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.  China has become Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner and a major source of investment and tourism.  Our friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation has brought tangible benefits to the two peoples. Colombo Port City, Hambantota Port comprehensive development project has become a flagship of jointly building the Belt and Road. The project has created more than 100,000 local jobs and trained thousands of technical and management talents and laid an important foundation for Sri Lanka to further realize its independent and sustainable development.

We have noted that “natural disasters” such as the global COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical “man-made disasters” such as the Ukraine crisis are coming one after another.  The security and stability of the global production lines, supply chains and capital chains have been severely undermined. The global energy, food and financial crisis have triggered crises in terms of production, life and survival, especially for the people in underdeveloped countries. Sri Lanka is one of the victims.  In this difficult time, please be assured that the Chinese government and people unswervingly stand with the government and people of Sri Lanka to overcome the difficulties. 

Facts have repeatedly proved that maintaining and developing friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Sri Lanka is conducive to the development of our two countries, conforms to the fundamental interests of the two peoples, and embodies the painstaking efforts of successive leaders of the two countries and the common aspiration of the two peoples.

In more than 10 days’ time, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be convened. The congress will comprehensively and systematically summarize the historical achievements of the past 5 years, and scientifically plan the development goals, tasks, major policies and policies for the next five years and beyond. It will definitely have great and far-reaching significance for China and the world in the future.

The Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries will never forget those old friends and good friends who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of China Sri Lanka friendship over the past decades.  We are very sympathetic to the temporary difficulties faced by Sri Lankan friends. However, we are confident that Sri Lanka will achieve development and revitalization by giving full play to your regional advantages, natural resources and human resources. We are willing to share with Sri Lanka unreservedly China’s experience in reform and opening up and poverty reduction development, provide help to Sri Lankan friends to overcome difficulties, and support Sri Lanka to achieve independent and sustainable development and completely get rid of poverty.

The CPAFFC is willing to work with friends from all walks of life in Sri Lanka, uphold the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact, and actively promote friendly exchanges between local governments, friendly organizations, friendly personages, think tanks, media, youth and other non-governmental areas of the two countries, promote mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, science and technology, culture, education, capacity building and other fields, and contribute wisdom and strength in pushing forward the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership featuring sincere mutual assistance and everlasting friendship to a new level.

I look forward to leading a delegation to visit Sri Lanka at an early date. At the same to time, we warmly welcome all our friends in Sri Lanka to visit China at an appropriate time. Let us work together to create a better future for China-Sri Lanka relations!

May the friendship between China and Sri Lanka last forever! May Sri Lanka enjoy prosperity and its people happy lives!