Beijing’s keen desire to ensure further increase in existing friendly relations and close economic cooperation with Sri Lanka became evident once again when a senior member of the Chinese government paid a visit to Sri Lanka this week. Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Chen Min-Er held discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena and other senior leaders during his brief visit to Colombo. Chen Min-Er is currently visiting Sri Lanka with a leading CPC delegation.
President Sirisena and Chen Min-Er held an open conversation on a wide range of subjects including bilateral relations, regional stability and economic cooperation. President thanked China for the support extended to Sri Lanka for more than 60 years and made a special mention about the help given to defeat brutal terrorists by supplying modern weapons and standing with Sri Lanka at international forums.
Chen Min-Er thanked Sri Lanka for the early recognition given to Beijing since the 1950s, accepting the One-China Policy and starting trade relations under Rubber-Rice Agreement even before establishing diplomatic relations.
Empower rural masses
Taking into consideration Chen Min-Er’s expertise in rural poverty eradication programmes, President Xi Jinping appointed him in charge of the Chongqing, the largest province in China, to implement the ambitious Rural Revitalization programme to empower rural masses in this poverty-stricken province of China. He has launched two successful programmes – Precision Poverty Alleviation and Rural Revitalization in Chengqing.
There is immense potential for collaboration between the Gramashkthi National Programme of the Presidential Secretariat and the Rural Revitalization Programme of Chongqing. The proposed collaboration proposal under Belt and Road Initiative with Chongqing government and its support bases – International Research Centre for NeoChina Socialism and Chongqing International Exchange Association is likely to be considered shortly.
The senior CPC delegation’s visit is aimed at strengthening and upgrading the collaboration between the two countries. Visiting CPC office-bearer also discussed increasing ties between CPC and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
The CPC delegation requested from President Sirisena, who is also the Chairman of the SLFP, to send a party delegation to participate in the next CPC Convention. Vice President Nimal Siripala de Silva said that SWRD Bandaranaike founded the SLFP by incorporating the principle of the middle path with the socialist policies of Chairman Mao Zedong. He said that the SLFP adapted socialism and aligned it into the requirement of the Sri Lankan people.
The International Research Centre for NeoChina Socialism proposed a joint programme to set up a “Joint Development Centre for Belt and Road Rural Revitalization” (RR Centre) to be headquartered both in Chongqing and Colombo. Since President Xi Jinping was elected as the leader of China in 2013, the Chinese government has introduced a series of effective and innovative agricultural development related approaches, from Precision Poverty Alleviation to Rural Revitalization, which has attracted global attention alone with the development Belt and Road Initiative. Many developing countries are seeking rural development-related support from China for improving the living standards of rural people and bring prosperity to the rural regions.
China has a long agricultural history, and agricultural exchanges and trade were an important part of the ancient Silk Road. Today’s agriculture still accounts for 25% or more of GDP in many Belt and Road countries, while the greatest concentration of poverty is generally found in rural areas. Agricultural cooperation provides the best opportunity to fight hunger, eradicate poverty, and achieve food and nutrition security.
China and Sri Lanka cooperation
The future of China and Sri Lanka cooperation has immense potential to put rural development-related projects as one of the most important fields.
Grama Shakthi National Movement (GSNM) is a programme launched in early 2017 by President Sirisena. It is a movement to mobilise all of government, private sector and people’s sector to support reaching the national goal of making Sri Lanka poverty-free by 2030. The programme combines learning from successful elements of all key poverty reduction programmes of the country as a national effort of all concerned to reach the sustainable development goals ending hunger poverty and halving all forms of poverty.
The Mission of the GSNM is to provide facilitation to people living in Grama Niladhari Divisions to fulfil the basic needs and the growing needs individually and collectively by providing information, decision making power and resources by 2020 and contributing to reaching the national sustainable development goal of eradicating extreme poverty and halving all forms of poverty by 2030.
In April this year, President Xi Jinping urged all-out efforts to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty in China within two years. Chongqing is playing a very important role for Precision Poverty Alleviation and Rural Revitalization in China as a hub with integrated solutions. President Xi Jinping has emphasized and encouraged agricultural colleges to strengthen talent cultivation and improve the standard of agriculture science and technology to promote the country’s overall rural development.
Since Chongqing has been developing as one of the model regions to execute China’s precision poverty alleviation and rural revitalization approaches, the Gramashakthi National Movement has enormous potential to collaborate with the Chinese government to explore the opportunities for rural development cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Chen Min-Er explained the steps he has taken to alleviate poverty in China and said that President Xi Jinping has given strict instructions and targets to officials to ensure China is poverty-free soon. The Chinese leader has set 2020 as the year that no Chinese should be living below the poverty line, aiming to become a “moderately prosperous society”.
President Sirisena thanked the Chinese delegation and said that Chinese expertise will be of immense use for poverty eradication plans in Sri Lanka.