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.
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