China was a tower of strength to Sri Lanka, especially when we faced various challenges in the international arena, External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L Peiris said.
The minister was making the keynote address at the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the People's Republic of China and 60th anniversary of Sri Lanka - China Rubber Rice Pact, at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike International Conference Hall yesterday.
The Sri Lanka China Friendship Association, Sri Lanka China Society, Association for Sri Lanka-China Social and Cultural Cooperation and Sri Lanka China Journalists' Forum in collaboration with the embassy of the People's Republic of China in Sri Lanka organized the ceremony.
"China has been the major partner in Sri Lanka, in the spheres of social , cultural, economic and more importantly, in the development of infrastructure facilities. The enormous contribution made by China to our development process was appreciable," Minister Peiris said.
"The five visits to China by President Mahinda Rajapaksa were an indication of the friendship and goodwill maintained by two countries," he said.
"Both countries helped each other during crisis situations and China always safeguarded the dignity and self respect of Sri Lanka at every turn. The friendship of the two countries has grown from strength to strength and this will further blossom in the years to come," the minister said.
"In addition, many important State of the Art buildings in Sri Lanka are the donations of China and I, being the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka pay tribute to China for the goodwill and friendship extended to us in this manner," he said. Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka Wu Jianghao said the traditional ties between the two countries have a long history.
"When China was in a difficult situation in 1952, Sri Lanka came forward to support China by signing the Rubber Rice Pact. China also stood by Sri Lanka in safeguarding its sovereignty and independence, "the ambassador said. "No matter what happens in the international arena, China and Sri Lanka will remain friends in the future too," he stressed.
"Sri Lanka is heading towards rapid development and has progressed tremendously after the war," he said.
"China has always supported Sri Lanka's development process, "Ambassador Jianghao added. Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratnea and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe also addressed the gathering. Ministers Nimal Siripala De Silva, Rauff Hakeem, A.H.M. Fowzie and Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody were also present.