Sri Lanka should cooperate with China - Dr. Kohona | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka should cooperate with China - Dr. Kohona

Cooperating with China and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) opens doors of potential development to developing countries. Sri Lanka should position itself to benefit from this opportunity, former Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Currently Managing Director, Hairong Investments International (Pvt) Limited Sri Lanka, Dr. Palitha Kohona said.

Rebuffing sceptical views that China’s excessive concern for developing countries is not without strings attached, he said many countries in the region and particularly in Africa are already reaping harvests of Chinese investments and added that Sri Lanka too would benefit from these investments if it is judicious enough.

He said the BRI will be a closely related factor as Sri Lanka seeks to realise its ‘Vision 2025’ which provides the development blueprint for the country for the next seven years and infrastructure development and IT will play a central role in it.

“Sri Lanka must manage its international, political and economic relations prudently. While benefitting from China’s BRI, it is Lanka’s responsibility to protect its vital interests. Sri Lanka can do it. We just need leaders with imagination and skill,” Dr. Kohona said.

The BRI, an initiative of the Chinese premier Xi Jinping launched in 2016 is aimed at enhancing regional connectivity and embracing a bright future. However, the BRI is also being seen as a move for Chinese dominance in global affairs with a China-centered trading network.

“It is not only the vast foreign reserves of China that makes its outreach tempting but also the Information Technology with its massive financial clout that makes it a formidable proposition as the world moves further in to the 21st century,” Dr. Kohona said.

China continues to expand its own economic model, creating increasingly more space for the private sector while retaining the dominant role of state owned enterprises, Sri Lanka and other developing countries can benefit hugely from this evolving Asian model of development.

According to statistics China is home to around 700 million internet users with web development becoming a cottage industry. China is the biggest e-commerce market in the world with over half of the most valuable companies in the world being Chinese.

“Other countries are simply playing catch up. Baidu is the largest search engine and China’s Alibaba is bigger than Amazon and Ebay combined.

Tempted by the huge Chinese market, Google is hankering to return to China,” Dr. Kohona said adding that Sri Lanka should exploit the vast Chinese market for tourism.

He said China is the main source of tourists in the world, supplying 137 million in 2017. Much has been written about the massive progress made by China in the transport industry with over 18,000 miles of high speed trains already in use delivering over 1.7 billion passengers in 2017.

“China is the biggest global market for motor cars and its production reached 23.7 million units in 2017 which exceeds that of the US and Japan combined.

China’s construction industry has also climbed dizzying peaks with some city sky lines looking as if they were plucked out of science fiction movies,” Dr. Kohona said. 

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