Professional strategy vital to woo Chinese investments - Palitha Kohona | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Professional strategy vital to woo Chinese investments - Palitha Kohona

5 September, 2021

The relationship between Sri Lanka-China is a multifaceted one between two mature and proud sovereign states which have enjoyed close ties over a long period. Sri Lanka is not viewed only as a development partner by China and neither does Sri Lanka consider China to be only a development partner, Ambassador of Sri Lanka in China, Dr. Palitha Kohona  said in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer Business  last week.


Q: How does China perceive Sri Lanka as a development partner?

A: Bilateral  relationship, guided by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and President Xi Jinping, has never been closer and warmer. Sri Lanka is not viewed only as a development partner by China. Sri Lanka does not wish to be only a development partner. Our relationship is multifaceted and one between two mature and proud sovereign states which have enjoyed close ties over a long period.

We have an excellent understanding of each other’s interests internationally. China and Sri Lanka have supported each other at international fora over the years, including at the UNHRC and the UN in New York.

Sri Lanka, while never compromising on the One China policy, was also a vocal advocate of China’s efforts to regain its rightful place in the UN. China backed us solidly as we battled the separatist and terrorist LTTE and subsequently, came to our assistance as we sought international funding for our post conflict recovery.

China has been a generous contributor to our efforts to meet the challenge of Covid-19. China, in fact, has gifted three million doses of vaccine to Sri Lanka. They have made 23 million doses available for purchase against a background of meager supplies of vaccine from other sources.

The pandemic under which Sri Lanka is reeling at present would have been even worse, had not Sinopharm vaccines not been available. 

Q:  It is perceived by some here that  China has subtle agendas in its strategic investments in Sri Lanka including the Colombo Port City project. How do you respond to it?

A: This is a strange statement for any one to make. The Chinese have never even hinted that they have any agenda other than what has been stated publicly.

To suggest that they harbour a subtle agenda when they really don’t need to confuses me.

China has never suggested that they seek to use their surplus funds to gain strategic advantage compared to other countries which have not been too subtle about their intentions in their efforts to contain China.

China has publicly advocated globalisation, and that includes the free movement of investment capital. In fact, the US has attracted over USD 120 billion in Chinese investments. The EU has lured a much larger slice. USD 348 billion so far, including the United Kingdom $70 billion, Italy $31 billion, Germany $20 billion, and France $13 billion.

The alleged subtle agenda does not appear to have worried them too much despite the advice liberally dished out to us. 

Despite current tensions, Chinese investments are still head for the West. We need a professional and well calculated strategy if we wish to attract these investment funds.

Singapore works closely with China in managing investments. Chongqing has a prominent Singapore presence in joint high tech development.  Chinese companies will enter the Sri Lankan investment space based on commercial considerations. This has become patently clear to me from my various conversations with them. They will compare what Sri Lanka has to offer with what our competition has to offer. Infrastructure facilities like the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Harbour  were built at our request.

We made the request and after detailed negotiations, the Chinese companies obliged, only after our efforts to woo investors from the West and from India were rebuffed. We need to remember that we are not the only country seeking to attract the Chinese Yuan.

China itself is working hard to make Chinese companies invest at home.

We have stiff competition. We need to compete and woo the Chinese companies harder, make them feel comfortable coming to Sri Lanka, if we are to attract substantial investments. We need these Foreign Direct investments to make the lives of our people better.