|Chinese Foreign Minister reiterates support for Sri Lanka's sovereignty and territorial integrity|
|Friday, 12 September 2008|
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Yang Jiechi has reiterated China's strong support for Sri Lanka's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity. This pledge was made during bilateral talks between him and his Sri Lankan counterpart, Rohitha Bogollagama held at the Foreign Ministry on10 September 2008.Minister Yang Jiechi was on his first official visit to Sri Lanka, as Foreign Minister, from 09th to 10th September 2008, at the invitation of Minister Bogollagama. The discussions focused on strengthening all round partnership between the two countries, particularly in enhancing bilateral economic cooperation in the fields of trade and investment, as well as greater people to people connectivity, through youth and student exchange programmes and tourism.
Minister Bogollagama in his opening remarks recalled the excellent relations between China and Sri Lanka spanning over five decades. He also appreciated China's continued generous economic assistance in infrastructure development, including the Hambantota port development project, the Norochcholai coal power plant, the National Performing Arts Theatre, highway development, as well as other projects which are currently under negotiation. In this regard, he welcomed China's generous grant of Yuan 50 million under the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation which both Ministers signed earlier in the day at the President's House in the presence of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Commenting on the progress of the ongoing Chinese funded projects, he sought the Chinese Minister's intervention to resolve certain issues in order to facilitate and expedite their implementation.
Foreign Minister of China, Yang Jiechi who is on an official visit to Sri Lanka
Minister Bogollagama assured his Chinese counterpart of Sri Lanka's consistent and firm adherence to the One China Policy, as well as a deep understanding of China's concerns regarding Tibet and the Dalai Lama. He congratulated China on the staging of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on a grand and spectacular scale.
Minister Bogollagama highlighted the great importance Sri Lanka attaches to her relationship with China, which was underscored by the three visits of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to China since 2007, at the invitation of President Hu Jintao, the most recent being his participation at the Beijing Olympics, during which he had constructive discussions with the Chinese President on further consolidating bilateral ties and the abiding friendship between the two countries. He also appreciated China's high level participation as an Observer at the recently concluded 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo and welcomed China's constructive engagement with the SAARC. The Minister gave a comprehensive briefing to the Chinese side on Sri Lanka's agenda as the Chair of SAARC to promote greater regional cooperation as well as an active and meaningful partnership with the Observer States. Minister Bogollagama expressed Sri Lanka's desire to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a dialogue partner and sought Chinese support for this endeavour. Referring to the very close coordination and understanding that prevails between the two countries at various international fora, the Minister stated that this approach reflects the common position that they share on a range of global issues.
Referring to the trade balance heavily tilted in favour of China, Foreign Minister Bogollagama sought his counterpart's support to facilitate ways and means of reducing the imbalance, including by enhancing market access for Sri Lankan products to China, particularly agricultural produce which would have a direct positive impact on the rural masses, as well as granting of tariff concessions under a Preferential Trading Agreement.
Minister Bogollagama appraised the Chinese delegation on the ongoing humanitarian endeavour to liberate the people in the remaining pockets in the North from the clutches of the terrorists. In this regard, he conveyed his deep appreciation for the continued and consistent support of China in combating terrorism.
Responding to Minister Bogollagama's remarks, the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi thanked him for the invitation to visit Sri Lanka and the warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements made for the visit. Referring to the meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the morning, he greatly appreciated the President's strong commitment to the One China Policy, which had also been reiterated by Minister Bogollagama. The Chinese Government and the people deeply appreciated the kind gesture of President Rajapaksa and Minister Bogollagama for visiting the Chinese Embassy in Colombo to express condolences in the aftermath of the massive earthquake in the Sichuan Province. He also conveyed the Chinese Government's gratitude to President Rajapaksa for his personal concern towards the quake victims by visiting them in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, as well as the donation of relief supplies for the victims, which had deeply touched the Chinese people and reflected the solidarity of the Sri Lankan people with the Chinese people in their time of distress.
Foreign Minister Yang underscored the importance of China's longstanding friendship and cooperation with Sri Lanka, which has been manifested in recent years in the infrastructure development projects in the country, and the regular exchange of high level bilateral visits. Referring to the Yuan 50 million grant that has been offered under the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, he expressed the hope that these funds would be utilized for the economic development of Sri Lanka.
Regarding the ongoing Chinese funded development projects, Minister Yang assured Minister Bogollagama that he would convey Sri Lanka's concerns to the relevant authorities, and also advised the concerned Sri Lankan authorities to follow up directly with their counterpart agencies. Commenting on the new projects in the pipeline, Chinese Minister, pledged to expedite clearance and funding through the relevant agencies in China, for their speedy implementation.
The Chinese Foreign Minister was appreciative of Sri Lanka's unwavering commitment towards the One China Policy, and her understanding of China's concerns on the issue of Tibet and the Dalai Lama. The Minister reiterated China's continued support for Sri Lanka's sovereignty and territorial integrity and her efforts to bring peace for the people of Sri Lanka.
Minister Yang congratulated Sri Lanka for successfully hosting the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo. He added that China desires to play a meaningful and a proactive role in addressing regional concerns, such as food security, energy issues etc. Referring to Sri Lanka's interest to join the SCO as a dialogue partner, the Chinese Minister, assured China's support for Sri Lanka. While echoing sentiments expressed by Minister Bogollagama on the mutual support and understanding existing between China and Sri Lanka at regional and international fora, the Chinese Minister expressed the hope that Sri Lanka would continue her dialogue with China on issues such as UN Reforms, climate change, food security etc. in order to safeguard the interests of developing countries.
The Chinese Minister said that his government takes the issue of the balance of trade heavily against Sri Lanka very seriously and assured the Sri Lankan side that they would favourably consider a reduction of tariffs on a range of exportable goods at future trade talks, as well as assist exporters and manufactures in Sri Lanka to develop the quality of their products in order to gain greater access to the Chinese market. He also said that his Government would strongly encourage Chinese companies to increase their investments in Sri Lanka, especially in high-tech industries.
The Chinese Minister said that China looked forward to the visit of Prime Minister, Ratnasiri Wickramanayake to Chengdu in October at the South China Trade Fair. He also invited Minister Bogollagama to visit China in 2009 which was accepted.
The two Ministers also discussed matters pertaining to the exchange of students, promotion of tourism, people to people contacts, regular consultations at all levels so as to further consolidate friendship and bilateral cooperation.
Minister Bogollagama was joined at the talks by Secretaries to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Power & Energy, Cultural Affairs and Ports & Aviation, together with senior officials from relevant government agencies and the Foreign Ministry.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )|
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