Developing the Maritime Silk Road: Complementing the official initiative

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 00:25 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) received a Chinese delegation led by Qin Yucai, Director General, Department of Western Region Development, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of the People’s Republic of China, which is currently visiting Sri Lanka. Pathfinder Foundation Founder Milinda Moragoda and Executive Director Luxman Siriwardena headed the PF team at a productive working session last morning (24) at the Colombo Club, Taj Samudra. Sri Lanka has become the first country to support China’s plan to build a Maritime Silk Road (MSR), which is designed to improve connectivity and promote mutual development among the countries of the region. The MSR will be an open-ended platform for integrating various aspects of ongoing cooperation, particularly those linked to connectivity (in the spirit of the ancient Silk Road which was land-based). The MSR can be the basis for accelerating development in the participating countries of the region. The concept was first launched by President Xi Jinping during his visits to Indonesia and Malaysia. The MSR is expected to benefit Sri Lanka by building on the role China has played in the development of the Colombo and Hambantota Ports and the vastly improved road network. The PF, which has already promoted business and people-to-people contacts between Sri Lanka and China, through its collaboration with the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament (CPAPD), is well placed to play a similar role in support of the efforts being made at the official level in relation to the MSR. The PF is of the view that the following areas could be promoted through the implementation of the MSR:
  •  Relocation of Chinese light industry and services, particularly maritime services, to Sri Lanka
  • Developing Sri Lanka as the bridge between China and the Indian sub-continent
  • Vocational training and skills development to meet the human resource requirements, particularly of the Chinese enterprises locating in Sri Lanka
  • Teaching of Chinese language and business ethics to meet the soft infrastructure requirements associated with the rapidly rising Chinese tourist arrivals and the increased presence of Chinese businesses in the Sri Lankan economy.
  • Developing a Buddhist tourism trail linking places of religious worship in Sri Lanka, China, India and Afghanistan.
  • Developing the fisheries sector
  • Exploring the strengthening of rapid response and disaster management capacity of the participating member states.
The Chinese Delegation comprised the following from the National Development and Reform Commission, Dept of Western Region: Qin Yucai, Director General, Fei Zhirong, Counselor, Sun Xuezhen, Advisor and Liang Linchong, Director, Department of International Cooperation; as well as Lv Jin, Director of International Economic Affairs and Zhang Xuehai, Second Secretary of Asian Affairs from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Other members of the delegation included Luo Rong, Division Director, Bureau of Research Administration, Academy of Macroeconomic Research, NDRC; and the Chinese Embassy officials: Commercial Counsellor and Wang Yingqi, Third Secretary, Yu Jiamu, The Pathfinder Foundation Delegation comprised Milinda Moragoda, Founder, Pathfinder Foundation, Luxman Siriwardena, Executive Director PF, Dr. Indrajit Coomarasway, Deputy Chairman – PF, Prof. Sirimal Abeyratne, Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Valsan Vethody, Advisor PF, Yasalanie Amarasinghe, Asst. Project Manager PF and Deepan Augastin, Secretary PF.