By Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan and Zou Yuecui
To all my dear friends in Sri Lanka: Greetings from Beijing!
My wife and I have already left Colombo and returned to China on 29 February, after I completed my tenure of two years and one month as Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka. Please pardon me for not biding a good farewell to each of you due to an extremely tight and busy schedule before we departed.
During last week when we were settling down in Beijing, I went through the photos, and all the faces and scenes captured reminded me so vividly of yesterday-like memories. When writing this letter with a strong feeling of ‘nostalgia’, I realised that some part of my heart has been left behind with this beautiful island country thousands of miles away from China.
My heart is with the breathtaking beauty of the island. During my tenure, I was fortunate to travel around all the nine provinces of Sri Lanka, witness with my own eyes the beauty of this Indian pearl, and take many postcard-like pictures.
To the south, the gem-blue seawater in Mirissa attracts surf-lovers from all over the world. To the east, the flour-white beach of Trincomalee seems like a paradise. In the central, the green plantations in Nuwara Eliya grow the world-renowned Ceylon Tea. To the north, brown soil of Vavuniya conceives the hope of post-war reconstruction. Sri Lanka is already my most familiar and loved country outside China.
My heart is full of the true friendship of Sri Lankan people towards Chinese people. I remember the smiling faces of local children when I donated schoolbags at the Al-Mina Maha School in Mannar. They wrote my name on their palms to express appreciations. I remember when my wife and I visited St. Sebastian church in Negombo and those kids who suffered from Easter Sunday attacks, the longing for peace and stability in their eyes.
I will always remember when China is fighting COVID-19 with all-out efforts, the firm support and solidarity in various ways from the general public of Sri Lanka. Recently, First Lady of China Peng Liyuan wrote a letter back to the girls of Devi Balika Vidyalaya, thanking them for their heart-warming message and drawings which fully represent the cordial friendship between the two peoples of China and Sri Lanka.
My heart is excited by the Belt and Road Initiative joint-construction in Sri Lanka. Although originated by China, the BRI belongs to the world and helps Sri Lanka’s economic and social development, bringing benefits to our two countries and people. During the past two years, I have accompanied different friends and colleagues, both from China and Sri Lanka, to pay field visits to mega projects for dozens of times, including Colombo Port City, CICT, Hambantota Port, Southern Expressway Extension and National Nephrology Hospital in Polonnaruwa, jointly accelerating the projects development.
Regularly I held briefings and discussions with Chinese and Sri Lankan scholars and journalists, in the Embassy or even on the Lotus Tower, to contribute more ideas to high-quality construction of BRI.
My heart is beating together with this golden era of China-Sri Lanka relations. It’s my greatest privilege to be posted and dedicate myself as Ambassador of China to Sri Lanka. With the tremendous support from Sri Lankan side, no matter from which political party, ethnic or religious group, I work under the important consensus and guidance of the leaders of our two countries.
On the reception of the 70th anniversary of the funding of the People’s Republic of China, I was highly honored and delighted to see the then President, Prime Minister, Speaker and Opposition Leader all gathered and attended the event regardless of their political differences. Within only three days before I left, leaders of Sri Lanka were happy to accept my farewell calls out of their busy schedule. PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe showed their great kindness and held farewell meals for me and my wife out of protocol routines.
The concrete friendship between China and Sri Lanka is an inherited fortune of Master Fa Xian’s travel 1600 years ago and Admiral Zheng He’s visit over 600 years ago. It is founded by signing of the Rice-Rubber Pact 60 years ago and the construction of the BMICH 50 years ago. It is also rooted in our joint efforts to safeguard our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity together during the past decades. It will only be further enhanced when we jointly develop our two countries and build a community with a shared destiny. The great waves of our friendship shall never be stopped or prevented, as behind them are 1.4 billion plus 21 million people.
My dearest friends, I left the country with concern for both people of China and Sri Lanka, since COVID-19 epidemic is still spreading across various countries. At this crucial challenging moment, I firmly believe that under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, with President Xi Jinping as the core, China will surely win this battle against the virus and contribute to the well-being of the people in China as well as the world. Sri Lankans are our brothers and sisters. We are willing to provide any assistance within our ability to prevent and control the epidemic. Helping each other is always the cornerstone of China-Sri Lankan relations, as well as the big international family.
Farewell, Sri Lanka! Best wishes and Ayubowan to all my Sri Lankan friends. One day I believe, we will definitely reunite again!
Amb. Cheng Xueyuan
and Zou Yuecui
7 March, Beijing