Lanka-China bilateral ties at its zenith
China celebrated its 61st National Day on October 1. Sri Lanka -
China bilateral relations today are at its zenith. Historical relations
between the two countries date back to centuries marked by the great
Chinese bhikku Fa Hsien’s visit to Sri Lanka 1,600 years ago.
At the establishment of the Sri Lanka - China Friendship Society
The foundation was laid for closer ties between Sri Lanka and China,
after the 1949 Chinese revolution.
Sri Lanka recognised the Republic of China on January 6, 1950. the
Sri Lanka - China Friendship Society was set up during the latter part
of 1950. Former parliamentarian Kusuma Gunawardena was elected president
while Dr. G.V.S. de Silva, Professor of Economics, University of Ceylon
functioned as General Secretary. Later, the society was reorganised with
Theja Gunawardena being elected president. The increase of food
commodity prices by the ruling UNP government unleashed a trial of
public protests throughout the country.
Disillusionment with the ruling UNP regime escalated with the sudden
price hike in rice. The bilateral commerce and economic ties between Sri
Lanka and China took a new turn when Sri Lanka signed the Rice-Rubber
Pact with China on December 18, 1952.
The mass struggle led by the Sri Lanka-China Friendship Society
together with the Leftist forces including the Communist Party of Sri
Lanka, Sri Lanka Freedom Party and a group of scholar bhikkus influenced
Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike to establish diplomatic relations
It was a historic occasion when Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Lai
visited Sri Lanka on July 31, 1957 and signed the treaty for diplomatic
representation between the two countries.
The UNP government that took office in 1965 pursued a rather
unhealthy policy towards to Chinese interests.
Attempts on the part of anti-China elements loyal to the UNP and the
reactionary religious and minority groups which ignited anti-Chinese
sentiment during the 1959.
Tibetian revolt and the 1962 Indo-China war failed to succeed due to
the policies pursued by the Sirima Bandaranaike government. During the
1971 insurgency, the Chinese government provided military support to Sri
Lanka. In 1971, the Sri Lanka government rendered unstinted support to
China to secure a permanent seat in the Security Council. During Sri
Lanka’s war against the Tigers, the Chinese government provided military
hardware worth billions of dollars and supported Sri Lanka at United
Nations fora. The massive aid pumped into Sri Lanka’s economic
development epitomises China’s policy of peaceful co-existence.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa era marks the pinnacle of bilateral relations
between Sri Lanka and China.
The Sri Lankan Government its people, the opposition and religious
organisations, salute China’s epic forward march.
Translated by K.D.M.Kittanpahuwa