(ECNS) — “Global Insights on BRIChina has helped the development of developing countries under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana, speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament in a recent exclusive interview with China News Network on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative.
He noted that the initiative has deepened the friendship between Sri Lanka and China, expressing hope that his country can learn more development experiences from China.
Cooperation in construction, Promotion in inter-connectivity
“Infrastructure development in this project is very, very important,” said Abeywardana. He expressed great appreciation for China’s achievements in infrastructure development and promoting inter-connectivity among countries. “It’s a great achievement that you have made in the Belt and Road Initiative. We developing countries have received a huge amount of investments,” he introduced. “Now, (Chinese knowledge and expertise) are being disseminated to developing countries. For some of the development work that we have undertaken here in our country, we will never be able to accomplish that without support from China. So in that way, you have helped the development of developing countries.
“He shared stories of China’s assistance in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure construction and expressed his gratitude by listing several projects that have profound impact on the country’s development and people’s well-being. The projects include the Colombo Outpatient Department (OPD) of National Hospital (NHSL), National Performing Arts Theater and Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH).He said he was marveled by China’s speedy construction technology and exclaimed that even the construction of a huge hospital could be completed in just three years. “Future development work will be based on the improved knowledge of our engineers (to learn )lessons that your country has achieved up to now,” he added.
Long-lasting friendship, Close relationships
Sri Lanka is one of the main hubs along the Silk Road. Abeywardana reviewed the historical exchanges between Sri Lanka and China, stating that “About 1,600 years ago, there were a lot of business activities going on between China and Sri Lanka. Gems that were produced in Sri Lanka were popular in China. The silk and ceramics produced in China were very popular in Sri Lanka.”
“Close business ties have also stimulated people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries. In the early days, the Chinese business along the Silk Road was said to be very flourishing. Many Chinese businessmen conducted trade in Sri Lanka, staying in local villages. So there were frequent interactions between Chinese and Sri Lankan people, with some locals even picking up the Chinese language at that time.
“Our peoples were so closely associated. They are more or less family members,” said Abeywardana. “We appreciate the Chinese and the Chinese food. That is also another cultural link that we have with China.
“Today, the Belt and Road Initiative continues to inject new vitality into the exchanges between the two countries. The Sri Lanka National Performing Arts Theater, built with China’s assistance, has become a symbol of cultural exchanges.