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Sunday, 2 June 2013

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China, a true friend indeed

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's recent visit to China concluded on a positive note with more aid being pledged to Sri Lanka in various sectors. China has pledged to provide further funding to develop Sri Lanka's transport sector.The latest Chinese funding will be channelled to develop several expressways, road networks and rail tracks. The most notable of them would be Chinese financial assistance for a new Colombo-Jaffna expressway. The agreement was one of many reached during President Rajapaksa's bilateral meetings between Sri Lanka and China on his State visit to China.

As part of the proposed Colombo-Jaffna highway, the Chinese government will also assist develop a Colombo-Kandy-Kurunegala expressway, apart from the Southern Highway extension from Matara to Kataragama.

Moreover, China has also pledged support for a number of other projects, including the water supply schemes in Attanagalla, Minuwangoda and Kurunegala, an international conference hall in Kandy, an arts theatre in Anuradhapura and developing the Colombo and Ragama Hospitals.

It was indeed most gratifying to witness the warm welcome accorded to President Rajapaksa in China, a true friend of Sri Lanka. The bilateral ties between Sri Lanka and China have gone from strength to strength since President Rajapaksa took office in 2005.

With profound gratitude, we recall the magnanimous support of China and a few other friendly countries during Sri Lanka's relentless battle against terrorism.

It was China and a few others that steadfastly stood by Sri Lanka when powerful Western nations turned a Nelsonian eye to the LTTE's atrocities whereby Sri Lankans were at the receiving end.

When the West exhorted us to compromise the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the guise of peace, the dynamic support extended by friendly countries, including China, helped Sri Lanka eradicate terrorism and achieve an honourable peace.

Certain countries which pontificated to us on peace at any cost, are still trying to intimidate Sri Lanka and meddle in its internal matters. Those who now shed crocodile tears on the well-being of people in the North regrettably did not demonstrate their sincerity by making a tangible contribution to the Government's efforts to develop the areas devastated due to LTTE terrorism.

In contrast, China had set a shining example by not only strongly backing Sri Lanka in its lone battle against terrorism, but also making a praiseworthy contribution to develop the country. Unlike some Western countries, China did not vain-glorify what it had done to help eradicate terrorism. This was amply proved by its strong backing to Sri Lanka to crush LTTE terrorism and develop the areas destroyed by the LTTE.

The financial backing pledged by China to construct the Colombo-Jaffna Expressway is ample testimony of China's commitment to usher in a better future for those liberated in the North. This would be an added fillip to the thriving Northern economy and a tremendous boost to further develop the livelihood of the Tamils who had been liberated from the jaws of LTTE terror.

China's biggest financial institution that provides development loans to foreign countries - the China Development Bank (CDB), is a partner in many agreements signed between Sri Lanka and China last week. The construction of the new Colombo-Jaffna Expressway is one of the major projects.

CDB chairman, Hu Huaibang has assured President Rajapaksa that Sri Lanka will always be given top priority when granting financial assistance. Expressing gratitude to President Rajapaksa for Sri Lanka's close cooperation with the Bank, the CDB chief said that he was eagerly looking forward to further enhance the relations with Sri Lanka.

Huaibang affirmed that the bank would give the highest priority to Sri Lanka's needs for development assistance. His unequivocal statement would enable Sri Lanka to embark on several mega development projects in the near future.

Having eradicated the three-decade long terrorism scourge, the government is now going hammer and tongs to assure equal development throughout the country. While the average economic growth rate of the country is around eight percent, the growth rate in the Northern Province is over 22 percent. This alone is ample testimony of the Government's priority to restore infrastructure facilities destroyed by savage terrorists.

Certain Western countries, which for quaint reasons, turned a blind eye to these stark facts, are still trying to browbeat Sri Lanka by exploiting reconciliation as an effective tool. If these countries are sincerely keen on ushering in a better tomorrow for the Tamils in the North and the East, they should ungrudgingly help the Government's development in the two provinces.

Regrettably, they are singing hosannas for the LTTE cohorts. On the other hand, some Western politicians are only concerned about the votes of the adopted Tamils from Sri Lanka.

In this scenario, Chinese assistance is an eye-opener to the Western peace merchants who even approached the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to intimidate Sri Lanka.

Two successive resolutions brought up at the UNHRC by the US would certainly not do any good to the Tamils in the North, who went through hell due to LTTE terror. Regrettably, none of these Western human rights godfathers uttered even a word of comfort when those hapless civilians were forcibly kept as a human shield by LTTE terrorists.

It was the Government alone and the Security Forces which liberated those Tamils from LTTE terror.

China's contribution to further develop the infrastructure facilities will be a god-send to the Northerners.

What baffles us all is that those who shout from the rooftops to crush global terrorism adopt a different yardstick when it comes to terrorism in this part of the world. It was a crying shame that India too had to fall in line with the US-led Resolution at the UNHRC sessions earlier this year. Being our closest neighbour, Sri Lanka has maintained close ties with India all along. Sri Lanka, quite naturally, expects a better understanding from India as terrorism had affected South Asia to a large extent.

Last Sunday's terror attack in Central India reiterated the need to crush global terrorism. A heavily-armed gang of nearly 300 Maoist rebels killed at least 24 people and injured 37 in an attack on a convoy of local Congress Party leaders and supporters.

The landmine and gun attack was the deadliest in three years, and the latest in a long-simmering conflict that puts the insurgents against the authorities in the forests of mainly central and eastern India.

The Indian Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who rushed to the Chlattisgarh state capital Raipur along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the ambush, had quite rightly pointed out that this was not an attack on Congress or its leaders, but an attack on democratic values.

Hence, the South Asian countries should unite to wipe out terrorism. Sri Lanka's first-hand experience and expertise could well be exploited to make that goal more effective and efficient.

When most of the so-called powerful Western countries looked down upon the country, Sri Lanka waged its lone battle against barbaric terrorism and set a shining example.

The West should not feel diffident to make the utmost use of Sri Lanka's success, if it is sincerely interested in eradicating global terrorism.

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