Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong is currently on a visit to the North of Sri Lanka amid growing tensions between India and China.
His visit comes amid ongoing talks over a plan to hand over solar and wind power projects in the islands to India, following the suspension of Chinese power projects in the northern islands.
Yesterday (December 17), the last day of the Northern Province’s three-day visit, Ambassador Qi Zhenhong visited the islands off the coast of Adam’s Bridge in Mannar.
Qi Zhenhong began his first visit to the Northern Province at the Jaffna Public Library. During his visit, he also donated laptops and books to increase the capacity and collection of the renowned library in Asia.
He also held talks with Northern Province Governor Jeevan Thyagaraja. The Chinese Embassy in Colombo said he had discussed with the Governor of the Northern Province how to enhance the livelihood and mutual cooperation of the Tamil community.
The donation of five ROI mobile water treatment plants from China to five districts in the Northern Province was another important step of the Chinese Ambassador’s visit to the Northern Province. The Chinese Ambassador also joined in distributing nets and dry rations to fishermen in Jaffna.
Security in the North has also been increased due the Chinese ambassador’s visit.
Zhenhong also paid homage to the historic Nallur Kandaswamy Temple in Jaffna in full respect of Hindu religious and cultural traditions. For the first time in the history of the country, a Chinese Ambassador wearing a traditional Tamil dress(Vetti) came to pay homage to the Nallur Kovil. The ambassador also made a donation to the Kovil and shared offerings with those outside after his arrival.
He also visited the Sea Cucumber Hatchery in Ariyalai, Jaffna and was joined by Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda.
Speaking to the media during the visit, the Chinese Ambassador said, “Sri Lanka and China can work together to brighten the future. I think this is the beginning. We are committed to finding opportunities to work together in the future.”
There have been mixed reactions on social media about Chinese Ambassador Senghong’s visit to the North. Some described it as a good move, saying, “At least the Tamil community can understand the behavior of the Chinese people, which is completely different from that of the Indians.” Another comment was that whether the Ambassador was looking for properties in the North?
The Chinese Embassy in Colombo recently announced the suspension of Chinese hybrid power projects in Delft, Nayanativu and Analativu Islands in Sri Lanka. The Chinese embassy in Colombo said in a Twitter message that the move was due to ‘security concerns’ from a third party.
The Chinese embassy made the announcement while Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa was on an official visit to India. Sino Soar Hybrid Technology, a Chinese company, signed an agreement with the Maldivian government on November 29 to set up 12 solar power plants, following the suspension of construction of hybrid power systems on three islands in the northern part of Sri Lanka. The Chinese embassy in Colombo said on November 29 that it had signed an agreement with the Maldivian government to set up 12 solar power plants following the suspension of proposed Chinese power projects in the northern islands of Sri Lanka.
India strongly objected to Sri Lanka awarding the tender to a Chinese company for the construction of renewable energy power plants in Delft, Nagadeepa and the Analativ Islands in early 2021.
This Contract is part of the Supported Power Supply Improvement Project implemented by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Hybrid renewable energy systems were set up on the islands of Nainativu, Delft and Analativu off the Jaffna Peninsula.
Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Gopal Bagle met with the External Affairs Minister Prof. GL Peiris on December 16th and The meeting between the Indian High Commissioner and the Foreign Minister took place during the Chinese Ambassador’s visit to the North.
The Ministry of External Affairs stated that the progress of bilateral relations between the two countries was discussed during the meeting. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, discussions were held on the areas of mutual cooperation between the two sides as well as a number of issues related to the recent visit of Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa to India.
Sri Lanka is currently facing an economic crisis with the country’s foreign exchange crisis. The government is currently taking various measures to overcome this foreign exchange crisis and in the meantime, the government is focusing on obtaining loans through bilateral relations.
Government sources said that Sr Lanka is currently awaiting an economic relief package from India in an environment where Sri Lanka does not receive loans or assistance as expected from China.
Commenting on the diplomatic struggle for the establishment of Indian and Chinese power in Sri Lanka, Dr. Hasith Kandaudahewa, Senior Lecturer, Department of International Relations, University of Colombo, said that China is currently in the process of reversing its backwardness in Sri Lanka. Dr. Hasith Kandaudahewa says that China’s mark of being there by developing its projects in the north of Sri Lanka could be a security threat to India. The senior lecturer said that the Chinese ambassador was engaged in a cultural mission.
SOURCE: BBC SINHALA and LNW