Speech by H.E. Cheng Xueyuan on the Reception of the Successful Conclusion of Visits of Members of Sri Lanka Parliament to China

(Kotte, 31st July 2019)

Honorable Speaker Karu Jayasuriya,

Honorable Ministers, Members of Parliament,

Secretary General and colleagues from Parliament Secretariat,

Dear media friends,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.

I am very pleased to gather with you here at such a wonderful night, to celebrate a splendid achievement made by the Sri Lanka Parliament and the Chinese Embassy hand in hand.

During the past four years, at our invitation, most MPs of Sri Lanka have visited China in eleven delegations. On July 14, the last MP delegation has completed their journey to Shaanxi and Ningxia of China and returned to Colombo, bringing a beautiful conclusion of this task.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks to honorable Speaker, and all my colleagues from the Parliament for your great efforts to make it happen.

In these 11 visits, the MPs have traveled all around China, from Beijing, Shanghai to Shenzhen, Guangzhou, from Chengdu, Wuhan to Kunming, Haikou, from Xi'an, Yinchuan to Lhasa, Shigatse. You have witnessed the great changes since the establishment of the People's Republic of China 70 years ago, especially after the reform and opening-up 40 years ago, and experienced the cordial friendship from Chinese people to Sri Lanka.

70 years ago, China was a very poor and weak country, semi-colonized and bullied by western powers. It is the strong leadership of China's Communist Party, the tremendous efforts of the Chinese people, and the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of heroes that fight back the independence of our country and the liberation of our nation.

Only after studying the modern history of China, can we better understand why China value its sovereignty and territorial independence so much, why China proposes a new international relations of mutual respect, justice, fairness and win-win cooperation, why China urges to build the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and A Community of Shared Future For Mankind.

China and Sri Lanka are good neighbors, good friends, and good partners. In the history, we have thousands-years friendly exchanges, the famous Rice-Rubber Pact and personal friendship between leaders of our two countries such as Premier Zhou Enlai and Madame Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

Nowadays, China-Sri Lanka BRI cooperation has lifted our bilateral relations to a new level, and upgraded the economic and social features of Sri Lanka. From Norochchorlai Power Station, Katunayake Airport Expressway, to the Southern Railway, from Colombo International Container Terminal, Colombo Port City, to the Hambantota Port, all the mega-projects represent our joint efforts and a common goal of bringing more benefits to our two countries and the two peoples.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Although our cooperation is glowing deeper and deeper, it is unavoidable to hear some disturbing noise on China and our relations. Some is due to misunderstanding and lack of communication, while more are deliberately and falsely made by some foreign politicians and media, who are still holding the microphone of international opinions.

I would like to take this opportunity to talk about what is really happening in Xinjiang. The Chinese government has always attached great importance to the socio-economic development, religious freedom and cultural prosperity of minority communities in Xinjiang. Honorable Minister Mano Ganesan and Nimal Siripala, who have visited Tibet and Ningxia, witnessed the harmony among different ethnic communities and religions, and the socio-economic prosperity in the minority area of China. It is because Chinese government has taken a series of precautious measures to fight terrorism, including establishing vocational education and training centers, that no a single violent or terrorist attack has happened in Xinjiang during last three years.

In 2018, tourists in Xijiang have exceeded 150 million. In Xinjiang, there are 24,000 mosques for a total of 13 million Muslims. What is really happening in Xinjiang is religious freedom, human rights, security and economic development. Some western countries keep on attacking China and falsely claim the training centers to be "concentration camps". Their real purpose is to create chaos in China.

I am very pleased to see that on July 26, Ambassadors of 50 countries including Sri Lanka in Geneva have co-signed a letter to the UN Human Rights Council, speaking highly of the achievement made by the Chinese government in human rights development, anti-terrorism and de-radicalization in Xinjiang, supporting China's position in Xinjiang, and opposing any foreign interference into China's internal affairs. These 50 countries, which are from different areas, political systems and religious beliefs, even including many Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt, make a common voice for the international community. We wouldn't be easily cheated by the endless lies and manipulation of some western governments and media like before.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The 225 MPs are actually representing the 21 million people of diverse ethnic groups, social classes and religious background in Sri Lanka. Your opinions of China are exactly what Sri Lanka says about China. I believed that the visits to China are good opportunities to have a closer look at China and our relations by yourselves. It sows a seed of friendship in the heart. That seed, I expect, will grow up to a tall tree in the future. And I also expect to see that all MPs seated today, no matter what position you will be in the future, can always help Sri Lanka better understand China, and be a strong pillar for our cooperation to move forward.

Now, please allow me to propose a toast to your successful visits to China, and to the long-lasting friendship between China and Sri Lanka.