Tuesday, 16 September 2014 00:00
Opposition Leader welcomes Chinese President, hails long friendship between two countries but insists Rajapaksa regime can mirror Jinping’s anti-corruption drive
On the eve of a major State visit, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has hailed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, insisting that it must be mirrored in Sri Lanka across the spectrum of economic and Government activity.
In a statement issued to welcome the Chinese President who arrives in Colombo today, Wickremesinghe said that a series of measures had been put in place to curb Government spending and extravagance and hold public officials responsible in China.
President Jinping “will observe that Sri Lanka is engaged in its own battle against raging corruption and nepotism that has become a grave strain on the country’s economy. As the main Opposition, the UNP is adamant that the country should embark on an anti-corruption campaign of its own, that ensures that elected representatives and government figures are accountable to the people of Sri Lanka for every cent, borrowed and spent,” Wickremesinghe said in his statement.
The Opposition Leader said that his party hopes a similar anti corruption campaign will reach across the spectrum of economic activity in Sri Lanka, including in the spheres of ‘development assistance, grants and other types of commercial and humanitarian funding.’
Wickremesinghe said China was a long time friend of Sri Lanka with a deep cultural, economic and political relationship. “Together, our two nations have weathered many storms and collaborated effectively for the mutual benefit of our peoples,” the Opposition Leader’s statement said.
The statement said that during World War II, China had fought alongside Europe and Asia against fascist forces threatening the peace of the world.
“Ceylon, under the United National Party Government, became one of the first countries of the world to recognise the People’s Republic of China in 1950. Our economic ties were strengthened in 1952 by the Ceylon China Trade Agreement of 1952, when under the leadership of then Commerce Minister under the UNP Government R.G. Senanayake, the two countries signed the Rubber-Rice Pact,” Wickremesinghe observed.
He said that Sri Lanka paid a price for signing the agreement, when the US halted aid to Sri Lanka and stopped selling their sulphur to Colombo, a much-needed material for rubber cultivation in the island. “Yet the Rubber-Rice Pact became one of the most successful and sustainable trade agreements in the world,” the Opposition Leader’s statement said.
Wickremesinghe added that when China decided to liberalise trade and open its economy to the world, Beijing’s leaders turned to Sri Lanka for lessons learnt in liberal trade and attracting investment, sending its economists and trade specialists to Colombo to study the work of the Greater Colombo Economic Commission that preceded the current Board of Investment.
“Initiated by the UNP Government, China became one of Sri Lanka’s foremost partners in its fight against terror. Beijing’s support continued until the war finally ended in May 2009,” the statement said. (DB)