Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee (Speaker of the Parliament of China), Li Zhanshu assured Speaker of Parliament, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena that the Chinese Government will do its utmost to help overcome the economic challenge as well as the COVID challenge in Sri Lanka.
Li Zhanshu stated the above at the first diplomatic meeting held Tuesday, August 31, between the high-profile delegation of the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China and the Parliament of Sri Lanka. The meeting which was held through video technology was attended by a number of high profile officials.
In addition to Li Zhanshu, Wu Weihua, Vice Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee (Deputy Speaker), Liu Kun, Finance Minister of China too were present among others. It was the first diplomatic discussion held by the Parliament of China since the
COVID pandemic. Apart from the Speaker representing the Parliament of Sri Lanka, Deputy Speaker – Ranjith Siyambalapitiya; Leader of the House and Minister of Education – Dinesh Gunawardena; Minister of Finance – Basil Rajapaksa; Minister of Foreign Affairs – Prof. G. L Peiris, Minister of Youth & Sports – Namal Rajapaksa, State Minister of Regional Cooperation – Tharaka Balasuriya, Secretary-General of Parliament – Dhammika Dasanayake and Prof. Rohan Gunaratna were present at this discussion, the Parliament communications division said.
The Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka sought the assistance of the Government of China in overcoming the economic challenges posed by the current COVID situation to which the Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee assured full support under the guidance of the President of China.
The Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka highlighted that the Sri Lanka – China bilateral relations have grown from strength to strength since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 1957.
The Speaker took this opportunity to thank the Government of China on behalf of all political parties in the Sri Lankan Parliament and the people of Sri Lanka, for the unwavering support Sri Lanka has received in protection of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, promotion of economic prosperity, and in the sphere of international diplomacy.
Furthermore, the Speaker thanked China for the support Sri Lanka has received in facing the COVID-19 Pandemic. China has donated 3 million vaccine doses and supplied 18 million doses in total to Sri Lanka which has been instrumental in the vaccination drive Sri Lanka has undertaken to manage and control the COVID-19 pandemic, the Speaker further stated.
Whilst highlighting the need to enhance the bilateral relationship and cooperation between the two Parliaments the Speaker invited a delegation including his Chinese counterpart to visit Sri Lanka.
Accepting the invitation, the Speaker of China said that they would visit Sri Lanka as soon as the COVID-19 situation is resolved. He also said that he looks forward to a delegation accompanied by the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on a visit to China once the COVID situation is resolved.
Speaking at the occasion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. G. L Peiris said that the support extended by China in overcoming the COVID challenge in Sri Lanka is commendable. He further said that China has always stood by Sri Lanka as a close friend in the international arena and that he looks forward to the continued support in the future as well.
Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka had received a number of projects including the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, the Supreme Court Complex, the Southern Expressway, the Hambantota Port, the Mattala Airport and the Colombo Port City due to the intervention of the Chinese Government.
The Minister also requested the Speaker of China to look into the US$ 1.5 billion fiscal transfer between the two Central Banks as a measure to overcome the current economic challenge which is on hold due to some issues in the context of the technicalities of the agreement.
The Minister also requested to facilitate the expansion of industries such as garments, tea and gems to enter the Chinese market under the Sri Lanka-China Free Trade Agreement. The Minister also sought China’s support for further investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.
China will provide investment facilities for other investments, including the Colombo Port City Project, Li Zhanshu stated. He also assured that as Sri Lanka is a close friend of China, his country would extend its fullest support.
He further stated that a delegation visit between the two countries once the COVID situation has settled would help enhance mutual cooperation.