Qi Zhenhong

Qi Zhenhong is a Chinese diplomat. After joining Beijing Service Bureau for Diplomatic Missions (DSB) in the late 1980s he worked in various capacities from an Economist to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in the Kingdom of Bahrain. He is a former President of the China Institute of International Studies and currently serving as the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka.

Chinese Modernization Carries Global Significance

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On October 16th, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) opened in Beijing. I was honoured to join with leaders and representatives of 13 Sri Lankan political parties both from government and opposition, as well as five China-Sri Lanka friendship organizations, to watch the opening session and listen to the report delivered by H. E. Xi Jinping General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee together.

    In the report, General Secretary Xi Jinping proudly declared, “from this day forward, the central task of the CPC will be 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.” This solemn declaration resounded throughout the land of China and lifted the spirits of 1.4 billion Chinese people. “Chinese modernization” has soon become a hot topic attracting attention of not only friends in Sri Lanka, but also the international community. 

I. How to understand Chinese modernization?

     Since modern times, achieving modernization has become a common goal of all countries. Statesmen, scholars and citizens from different countries never quit thinking about these questions: What kind of modernization to strive for? How to achieve the goal of modernization? Is there an identical modernization formula for all?

    The Chinese Communists have spent more than a century in exploring its own path to modernization with unremitting endeavour from generation to generation – from the “four modernizations” slogan launched after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, referring to agriculture, industry, defense and science modernization, to the “three-step strategy” for modernization proposed after the beginning of reform and opening up in 1978. As socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era 10 years ago, General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that “we have upheld and developed socialism with Chinese characteristics and driven coordinated progress in material, political, cultural-ethical, social, and ecological terms, pioneered a new and unique Chinese path to modernization, and created a new model for human advancement”. The CPC has led the Chinese people in forging ahead with the times and achieving fruitful theoretical and practical results in its modernization drive.

Historic moment of founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 [ Photo provided by the author]

    Chinese modernization is socialist modernization pursued under the leadership of the CPC. It contains elements that are common to the modernization processes of all countries, but more characterized by features that are unique to the Chinese context in five aspects: a modernization of a huge population, of common prosperity for all, of material and cultural-ethical advancement, of harmony between humanity and nature, and of peaceful development. Chinese modernization also has following eight essential requirements: 1) Upholding the leadership of the CPC and socialism with Chinese characteristics, 2) Pursuing high-quality development, 3) Developing whole-process people’s democracy, 4) Enriching the people’s cultural lives, 5) Achieving common prosperity for all, 6) Promoting harmony between humanity and nature, 7) Building a community with a shared future for mankind, and 8) Creating a new form of human advancement.

    Chinese modernization is neither a copy of the socialist practice in other countries, nor a copy of the Western model of modernization. It is based on China’s fine traditional culture that adapts Marxism to the Chinese context, thus conforming to the global trends and the laws underlying the evolution of human society. This path of modernization created by the CPC sets the direction for advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts.

II. What’s the global significance of Chinese modernization?

    Today’s world has entered a new phase of turbulence, transformation and profound changes unseen in a century. As governance, trust, development and peace deficits facing humanity continue to grow, changes of the world, of our times and of history are unfolding in ways like never before. In response to the question of our age, namely “What has happened to the world, and how should we respond?”, China has provided its own answer for the world.

    Chinese modernization will further contribute to world prosperity. In achieving modernization, China has eradicated absolute poverty as scheduled and finished building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, thus attaining the First Centenary Goal, and significantly raised the overall performance of development of human society. Following the path of Chinese modernization, China will continue to promote the gains of development to benefit all its people in a fair way, and enhance people’s sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. Both people’s material and cultural-ethical lives will be enhanced. China will also provide more quality ecological goods to promote harmony between humanity and nature. The modernization of China’s 1.4 billion population, which is larger than the combination of all developed countries, is itself a pioneering work shining in human history. China, advancing along its path of modernization, will absolutely bring more benefits to the world while achieving its own development.

    Chinese modernization will inspire more countries to pursue its own development path. China’s practices and achievements have proved that there is no patent or one-size-fits-all model of modernization, thus successfully breaking the monopoly of Western countries in this field. All roads lead to modernization. Every country should independently pursue modernization through a path that is suited to its own history and conditions. Chinese modernization has overcome the dilemma of Western model of modernization and solved many difficulties facing the development of human society. It offers a new option for other countries and nations that want to speed up their development while preserving their independence; and it shares Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach for mankind to exploring the path of modernization.

    Chinese modernization will further improve global governance. China abandons the Western path of modernization that is capital-centered, polarized, full of materialism, expansion and pillage, and it will never go down the beaten track of big powers seeking hegemony or war. China stresses reliance on its own efforts to drive the nation’s development, follows the path of peaceful development, and adopts a clear-cut position that it will always stands on the right side of history and the side of human progress.

Poverty elimination in rural areas, the central part of development [ Photo provided by the author]

    General Secretary Xi’s report has made “building a community with a shared future for mankind and creating a new form of human advancement” essential requirements of Chinese modernization, which demonstrates that China, while pursuing its modernization drive, will remain committed to promoting the development of global governance in a fairer, more just and more reasonable direction, and inject strong positive energy into world peace and development.

    This year marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Sri Lanka, and the 70th anniversary of Rice-Rubber Pact. We welcome all Sri Lankan friends to board the express train of Chinese modernization, and keep forging ahead towards national development and rejuvenation, and a better future of all mankind!

China As a Healing Friend

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The following article is based on the speech by the author at the Medicine Donation Ceremony held at Lady Ridgeway Hospital, Colombo14th October 2022

It brings me very warm feelings and a strong attachment to visit the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children today. This hospital, along with other China-aid projects including the BMICH, Superior Courts Complex and Nelum Pokuna etc., have already become landmarks of Sri Lanka, and China-Sri Lanka friendship. I am very pleased to see the 9-floors main building constructed with Chinese assistance, and the MRI scanner donated by China continues to provide vital support to the hospital, benefiting children patients and their parents for over 20 years.

Today, on behalf of China Friendship Foundation for Peace and Development, I am honoured and delighted to hand over urgently needed medicines worth 100,000Yuan (about 5.2 million Rupees) to Lady Ridgeway Hospital, and Colombo South& North Teaching Hospitals, which might provide further help to Sri Lankan kids in need of treatment. I would like to avail this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks to Sri Lanka China Society for coordinating the donation.

Since China and Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations 65 years ago, our two countries and peoples have always been understanding and supporting each other. The COVID-19 pandemic and domestic economic crisis have brought severe difficulties to Sri Lanka, and its public health sector is especially faced with unprecedented challenges. We feel for our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters, and will continue our support to the health sector of Sri Lanka to the best of our capacity:

Firstly, China has been the biggest donor and supplier of PPEs, test kits and vaccines to Sri Lanka throughout the pandemic, which largely helped the island to win the battle against COVID-19.

Secondly, to tackle the CKDu (chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology) in Sri Lanka, China has handed over the National Nephrology Hospital in Polonnaruwa, the Joint Research and Demonstration Center for Water Technology in the University of Peradeniya, and 8 kidney disease mobile labs to the Ministry of Health of Sri Lanka and brought into operation in the last year.

Thirdly, various batches of medicines worth 22.5 million RMB (about 1.2 billion LKR) donated by China under its 500 million RMB emergency humanitarian assistance have already arrived in Sri Lanka and largely relieved its medicine shortage. In the coming months, more medical supplies with a total value of 5 billion rupees will be handed over to Sri Lanka and delivered to hospitals and patients across the island.

Moreover, the biggest China-aid project so far, a brand-new National Hospital OPD Center in Colombo which can accommodate 6,000 patients daily, will be soon opened to Sri Lankan people.

In conclusion, I reiterate that at this moment of difficulty, we will stand by your side, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, and jointly overcome the current challenges to contribute more to the well-being of our two people.

Glory of Sri Lanka-China Friendship

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Following are the excerpts adapted from the speech by the author at the event held yesterday in Colombo to celebrate the 73rd Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China Hosted by five major friendship organizations working for enhancing Sri Lanka – China friendship.

It brings me great joy and honour to join the Glory of Friendship Reception this evening. The reception is not only a Gala for friends but also a Reunion of families. Because all the guests present tonight from all walks of life in Sri Lanka, have always been following and supporting the development of China and China-Sri Lanka relations! You are the backbone of the friendship between our two people! On behalf of the Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka, I would like to extend my sincerest greetings and most heartfelt thanks to you and your family.

Tonight, we are gathering here to celebrate the 73rd National Day of the People’s Republic of China. Over the past 73 years, China has gone through a long way, with continued hard-working, reforming and opening up, and has risen to the second largest economy in the world. In the past decade, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has made great achievements in various sectors, eradicated absolute poverty, and realized the first centenary goal. All of you have witnessed, participated, and contributed to this great process in human history. At this crucial historical juncture, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held after two more weeks in Beijing. It will not only draw up a new grand blueprint for China’s development but also bring the international community stronger confidence and higher expectation of China. Let’s jointly wish Congress great success!

Tonight, we are gathering here to celebrate the  65th anniversary of China-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations, and the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact. In the face of the current challenging international situation, the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact, namely “independence, self-reliance, unity and mutual support” becomes ever more significant. And the traditional friendship between our two countries and two peoples is more precious. As we say, amity between the peoples holds the key to better state-to-state relations.

In the past decade, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has made great achievements in various sectors, eradicated absolute poverty, and realized the first centenary goal.

I have been listening carefully to your speeches and stories, and deeply impressed and moved. We sincerely commemorate late Minister Philip Gunawardena and Madam Kusuma Gunawardena who pioneered the exchanges with China, and late Minister R.G. Senanayake who signed the Rubber-Rice Pact for their great contributions to China-Sri Lanka friendship; We are also highly gratified to see pupils from Devi Balika School in Colombo, Caihe No.3 Primary School in Hangzhou and many others from the younger generation, are now carrying forward our friendship in the new era. What a joy!

In the past year,  my colleagues and  I have set foot on all nine provinces of the island. We laid the foundation stone of “Hope Village” in Hambantota down the south, and distributed food packs to estate workers in the central district of Nuwara Eliya. We visited local villages and financed a housing project for underprivileged families on the eastern coast of Batticaloa, and donated fishing gear to poor fishermen in the Northern Province. I feel myself the severe challenges facing Sri Lanka at the moment, but I’m also deeply touched and greatly encouraged by the positive minds of its people. It’s worth mentioning that, when the Chinese Scientific Vessel Yuan  Wang  5 finally docked at Hambantota  Port last month, big crowd from both countries joined me and welcomed the vessel in Hambantota. It makes our belief even stronger that neither the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis, the domestic political change nor the external interference can obstruct the friendly exchanges between our two peoples. Withstood all these challenges, our friendship will only grow unbreakable!

Brothers, Sisters, and friends, Challenges are only temporary, and we will work together to overcome them. Please join me in a toast, To the prosperity of our mother countries; Long live! China – Sri Lanka friendship!

Sri Lanka and China: We Are Stronger Than Ever

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        It is a great pleasure to visit the beautiful Eastern Province again after three months. This Saturday (September 10) is the Binara Poya Day in Sri Lanka, which is also the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. I wish all friends and your families a happy festival. There is an old saying in China, “First-time strangers, Second time friends”. The last visit left us a deep impression. Today, seeing your familiar faces and receiving your warm reception once again, I firmly believe that we are already old friends and good friends.

      We Chinese believe in “Promises must be kept and action must be resolute”. During our last visit, Madam Governor and friends from all walks of life in Eastern Province expressed your sincere hope that China will continue to help Sri Lanka especially Eastern Province, further strengthen bilateral cooperation in agriculture, ports, education etc., and to establish sister-provinces relations between Eastern Province and China’s Yunnan Province. My colleagues and I have attached great importance to your requests and initiatives as a priority in our hearts. For the last three months, we’ve mobilized various resources, overcame various difficulties, and achieved various gratifying results with the joint efforts of Sri Lankan colleagues. The first task of my visit is to brief Madam Governor and the people of Eastern Province on the progress of our work.

              In the past three months, we have been busy implementing the 500 million Yuan emergency humanitarian aid announced by the Chinese government to Sri Lanka. Among them, 10,000 tons of rice have been donated to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Education, as 6-months’ school meals for 1.1 million students of 7,900 schools in all 9 provinces including Eastern Province. The first batch of medical supplies donation (510,000 doses of Enoxaparin Sodium Injection) has been handed over to all hospitals across the country including the EP via the Ministry of Health, which is enough for the island’s use for half a year. In June this year, I also attended the 1st anniversary of the China-aided National Kidney Hospital in Polonnaruwa and happy to learn that the first patient to undergo surgery was from the Eastern Province.

              In the past three months, the Red Cross Society of China, China Rural Development Foundation (formerly China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation), China Peace and Development Foundation and other social groups have also donated much-needed food packages to nearly 20,000 underprivileged families of all ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, including $150,000 worth of food for 7,100 Tamil plantation workers families in upcountry alone. In addition, Chinese Foreign Ministry and China’s Buddhism Association have also mobilized about $1.5 million for food and medical grant to Sri Lanka. I believe you will see relevant reports soon.

China’s Yunnan Provincial Gov’t with its Friendship Association has donated 22 Smart Boards for distance education and 70 sets of solar streetlight systems to schools in the Eastern Province in Sri Lanka.

              It is worth mentioning that, encouraged by our embassy and invited by Madam Governor and the Sri Lanka Port Authority, some Chinese enterprises visited Trincomalee Port last month and had a good discussion with the Eastern Province on future cooperation. Besides, the embassy also assisted more than 10 officials and professionals from different circles of the EP to participate in various online workshops or training courses on agriculture and plantation held by the Chinese side. I’m confident that with the improvement of the COVID-19 situation, the two sides will soon be able to resume offline exchanges and cooperation.

              The second task of my visit is to witness, with all of you, the handover of a new batch of grants from China’s Yunnan Province to the Eastern Province. As a follow-up of its food donation worth LKR 55 million to 10,000 families in all the three districts of the Eastern Province in May, the Yunnan Provincial Government is very kind to donate another 22 smart boards worth LKR 21 million and about 70 sets of solar streetlights worth LKR 13 million to more than 20 schools in the province. I sincerely wish the two provinces to establish sister-provinces relations at an early date and bring more tangible benefits to the social development and people’s well-being of the Eastern Province. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Yunnan Commercial Representative Office in Sri Lanka for its continuous efforts and contributions.

              The third task of my visit will be tomorrow. Upon the good suggestion from Madam Governor and the Vice Chancellor, we will re-visit the Eastern University tomorrow to award a total of LKR 4 million of the Chinese Ambassador’s Scholarship to 150 outstanding students of all ethnic groups to support their study and daily life for 7 months. This is the first time that the Chinese Ambassador Scholarship has been particularly issued to the Eastern Province. In addition, to improve the increasing hardship of local fishermen due to various challenges, the Chinese embassy will construct 10 housing units for needy families in Kaluwankerni, Batticaloa district. A brief ground-breaking ceremony will be held in the village tomorrow.

              Over the past three months, there have been many major changes in Sri Lanka and the world. But we are pleased to see that the overall situation of China-Sri Lanka traditional friendship and the momentum of common development have not changed. The mutual understanding, mutual respect and mutual support between our two countries and the two peoples have not changed either. China-Sri Lanka relations have even become stronger under the test of complex internal and external challenges. The main reason is because our bilateral friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples and has become a cross-party, cross-regional and cross-ethnic consensus in both countries. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between China and Sri Lanka, and the 70th anniversary of the Rubber-Rice Pact. Let us walk hand in hand to jointly promote the friendly cooperation between China and Sri Lanka especially the Eastern Province to a new level!

The above article is based on the speech by the author at the Smart Board Donation Ceremony at the Governor’s Secretariat of Eastern Province on 5th September 2022

Exclusive: From One-China Principle to “Yuan Wang 5”

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In recent days, two pieces of news related to China have widely caught the eyes in Sri Lanka. Early this month, after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s sneaky visit to China’s Taiwan region, the Chinese side responded with firm countermeasures immediately. Over 170 countries around the world have all expressed their firm support for the One-China Principle and strong objection against the US provocation. I’m grateful to see that H.E. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, many Sri Lanka’s political parties and social groups have also openly spoken up for justice in support of China.

Consequences of Pelosi’s sneaky visit to China’s Taiwan region

Meanwhile, in the middle of this month, with China and Sri Lanka having altogether resisted the rude and unreasonable interference from third parties, the Chinese scientific research vessel “Yuan Wang 5” has successfully docked at the Hambantota Port for replenishment after receiving the latest approval from the Sri Lankan government. Those two matters may seem irrelevant and thousands of miles apart, but both share a same great significance between China and Sri Lanka, that is to jointly safeguard each other’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. The two matters, both the process and results, have also fully shown a fine tradition in our bilateral relations, that is since the diplomatic ties was established 65 years ago, China and Sri Lanka have always been mutually understanding, respecting and supporting each other on issues of core interests and major concerns.

The UN General Assembly adopts the draft resolution on the restoration of the lawful rights of the People’s Republic of China in the UN, October 25, 1971. [ Photo Credit: UN ]

In October 1971, UN Resolution 2758, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and 22 other countries, was adopted with an overwhelming majority of votes in the 26th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Resolution officially acknowledges the One-China Principle and the position that There is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. It also recognizes PRC as the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations. Since then, the One-China Principle has become a common understanding of the international society and a basic norm of international relations, and upon that principle, 181 countries including the US have established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

Nancy Pelosi’s visit is a serious violation of the One-China Principle and the provisions of the three China-U.S. joint communiqués. It seriously infringes on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and sends a seriously wrong signal to the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. However, I noticed that some local newspapers have forwarded voices from western media, falsely claiming that China “overreacts, escalates the tension and changes the Taiwan Strait status quo”, which are just their habitual tactics of standing facts on the heads and of a thief crying “stop thief”. It is the US and the Taiwan separatists that committed irresponsible acts, and change and escalate the Taiwan Strait situation, not China. China has every reason to respond unhesitantly to the severe impacts caused by the Taiwan visit of Speaker Pelosi, second in line to the US presidency and the No. 3 official of the US government.

Voyage of China’s Scientific research vessel, Yuan Wang 5

Upholding the One-China Principle is not only about safeguarding China’s core interests, but also about safeguarding the UN Charter and the basic norms of international relations. If China and the international society had not resisted such extremely irresponsible and irrational acts by the US side, the general principle of Non-Interference, National Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity in international relations would have just become a mere scrap of paper. More seriously, the world might slide back to jungle rules and barbarian times. With separatists and extremists being encouraged, national sovereignty and territorial integrity of medium and small countries might be severely challenged. The peace and stability in the region and the world enjoyed by countries including Sri Lanka would also suffer serious damage.

Just like Sri Lanka, China had suffered a hundred years of humiliation from 1840 to 1949. Because of a similar dark experience, China has always been supporting Sri Lanka in the international for protecting its sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. We will continue to do that.

Looking back at the great history of the island, Sri Lanka overcome aggression from its northern neighbour 17 times, colonization by the west for 450 years, and an anti-terrorism war for nearly 3 decades, is now still standing in the world bravely and proudly. Any infringement on the national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka shall not be tolerated. Approving a foreign vessel’s port call at Hambantota or any other port for replenishment is a decision made by the Sri Lankan government completely within its sovereignty, not to mention all the scientific research activities of “Yuan Wang 5” comply with the international law and common international practice. External obstruction based on so-called “security concerns” but without any evidence from certain forces is de facto a thorough interference into Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence. Fortunately, with China and Sri Lanka’s joint efforts, the incident was resolved properly, which not only safeguards Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence but also defends international fairness and justice once again.

Just like Sri Lanka, China had suffered a hundred years of humiliation from 1840 to 1949. Because of a similar dark experience, China has always been supporting Sri Lanka in the international for protecting its sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. We will continue to do that. In contrast, some countries, far or near, always make various groundless excuses to bully Sri Lanka and trample on Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and independence repeatedly. Next month, the the51stsession of the UN Human Rights Council will be held in Geneva where human rights issues in Sri Lanka might probably be stirred up again. As the Sri Lankan people are still grappling with severe economic and humanitarian difficulties, many might wonder what those countries who have been always preaching about human rights will actually do. Will they help Sri Lanka to ease its human rights crisis by providing concrete support? Or will they again use human rights as a cover-up tool to interfere into the island nation’s internal affairs and continue to rub salt into the wound of Sri Lankan people? Just let’s wait and see.