Full Report on MR’s Recent Visits in Beijing

(August 11, Beijing, Sri Lanka Guardian) President Mahinda Rajapaksa who arrived in Beijing to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games 2008, was given a rare opportunity to meet with President Hu Jintao on 7th August. During the bilateral meeting President Rajapaksa thanked China for the excellent arrangements that have been made for the Games and expressed the hope that it would be a resounding success.

President conveyed his sympathies on the recent earthquake that hit Western China and recalled the outpouring of the Chinese generosity during the aftermath of the Tsunami disaster in December 2004. In reviewing bilateral relations, President Rajapaksa reiterated the close political, economic and cultural relations with China and Sri Lanka’s upholding of the “One China policy” and thanked Chinese leaders for the support and assistance extended at all times for economic development.

President Hu, on behalf of the Chinese Government and the people of China warmly welcomed the Sri Lanka President for the ceremonial opening of the Games. He extended his warm appreciation to the people of Sri Lanka for the solidarity extended towards the Chinese people during the time of the Sichuan earthquake and for the humanitarian assistance rendered. He thanked President Rajapaksa for his intended visit to the Province of Sichuan to convey his personal sympathies to the people in the quake hit area. In acknowledging the briefing given by President Rajapaksa on the current developments in Sri Lanka, President Hu pledged China’s steadfast commitment and support for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Both Presidents exchanged views on the steadily expanding bilateral relations and partnership between the two countries and recalled the fruitful discussions they had during the Boao Forum in April this year. The President apprised the Chinese President on the ongoing Chinese funded development projects in Sri Lanka and expressed satisfaction over the progress of these projects. He also sought the support for new projects including the development of Hambantota Port, the second phase of the Puttalam Coal Power and the Colombo – Katunayake Expressway projects.

Describing Sri Lanka – China relations as a role model for two countries of different sizes and political ideologies, President Hu agreed to further support the upliftment of the socio-economic standards of the people of Sri Lanka well as extending assistance for new development projects. He also acknowledged the growing mutual political trust and close support extended by both countries in international and regional affairs.

He observed that bilateral trade relations between the two countries were improving and agreed to consider favourably President Rajapaksa’s request for further reduction of tariffs for Sri Lanka exports under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement negotiations ( APTA). It was noted that after a lapse of 8 years the Sri Lanka – China Joint Commission was held in May 2008. The Chinese President agreed to consider the request made by Sri Lanka President to increase the number of scholarships extended to Sri Lanka students.

In his capacity as Chair of the SAARC, President Rajapaksa briefed President Hu on the outcome of the recently concluded SAARC Summit, particularly in the context of a joint approach in combating terrorism, maximizing energy and water resources, food security, poverty alleviation in addition to several other key issues concerning the region. President Hu congratulated the Sri Lanka President on the successful conclusion of the 15th SAARC Summit and appreciated the role played by SAARC in sustaining development in the region. He expressed the desire by China to strengthen the dialogue with SAARC countries based on a co-operative partnership and a win – win situation.

In conclusion President Hu emphasized that Sri Lanka - China relations have been sustained over the years based on “5 principles of peaceful co-existence” featuring sincere mutual help and long term friendship

President Rajapaksa renewed the invitation extended to President Hu to visit Sri Lanka particularly in the context of observing personally the key development projects undertaken with Chinese funding. Chinese president acknowledged the need for a visit at a mutually convenient time.

The Sri Lankan delegation to these meetings included Dr P B Jayasundera Secretary Finance, Ambassador Karunatilaka Amunugama, Mr Gamini Senerath Additional Secretary to the President, Mr Sajin de Vass Gunawardena Coordinating Secretary to the President, and Embassy officials.
- Sri Lanka Guardian