The friendship between the two Asian Countries in the modern era dates back to 1952 when the mutually beneficial Rubber-Rice pact was signed, which played an important role in the development of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is also one of the first countries to support China’s Belt & Road Initiative.
China has stepped up its efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and medical aid to Sri Lanka as the two countries battle the COVID-19 pandemic in recent weeks, strengthening the solidarity between the two countries, Officials said.
While Sri Lanka fights the virus outbreak that has seen over 180 confirmed cases and six deaths so far, the Chinese government as well as multiple Chinese companies, many of whom operate businesses and mega projects in Sri Lanka, have sent crucial aid.
On April 1, Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy Hu Wei handed over the first shipment of aid from China, including 50,000 medical masks and 1,008 COVID-19 test kits, to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe later expressed gratitude to China for the solidarity shown during Sri Lanka’s battle with COVID-19 and said that such donations were of crucial importance for the well being of front line healthcare workers.
Along with the Chinese Government, many Chinese companies were also quick to respond to Sri Lanka’s fight against COVID-19 with crucial donations.
China Merchants Port Group (CMPort), the parent company of Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT) and Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG), donated 1,000 personal protective suits to the Sri Lankan government on March 25.
In a letter to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, CMPort CEO Dr. Bai Jingtao said that China would surely reciprocate the support that Sri Lanka showed to it when China fought the virus.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has donated a consignment of the country’s famous black tea to the Chinese Embassy.
HIPG, the company which operates Hambantota Port, supplied dry rations including milk powder, grains, potatoes and tinned fish to temples and households in the southern Hambantota District during a partial lockdown.
On April 5, CHEC Port City Colombo, the company behind the project to build a world class city on 269 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea, has donated masks and surgical gloves to Colombo’s Manning Wholesale Market.
The donations help enhance health and safety precautions in one of the largest food trading markets in the country, an essential service during curfew.
The Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), which has built local infrastructure such as airport highways, donated healthcare equipment including protective masks and surgical gloves to the Sri Lankan Navy on April 2.
Navy Commander Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva expressed thanks to China for this donation as it would help Navy personnel in carrying out anti-COVID-19 tasks such as quarantining individuals and disinfecting public spaces.
On March 28, China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Corporation (AVIC-ENG), which has built local infrastructure including highways and water supply projects, handed over thousands of protective masks to three police stations in central Colombo.
The masks helped police officers who are tasked with enforcing a strict curfew in Colombo which has the highest local cases of COVID-19.
Huawei, a world leader in telecommunications and 5G technology with an office in Colombo, donated a number of surgical masks, personal protective equipment, protective eyeglasses, and bottles of hand sanitizers to the Ministry of Health on March 29.
Much of the aid given by Chinese companies was branded with the Chinese and Sri Lankan national flag, and carried inspirational messages of support and solidarity in Mandarin, Sinhala, Tamil and English.
Huawei’s aid carried a quote from Buddha saying, “Health is the ultimate wealth.” A potent message in a country where 70 percent of the population are Buddhists.
Messages on CHEC Port City Colombo’s aid evoked the solidarity between Sri Lankan and China. It read “We stand together through storm and stress, and we stick together in times of difficulty.”
Aid sent by CMPort carried a poem emphasising the historic relationship between the two Asian countries: “From far history, through centuries, China and Sri Lanka, we are together.”
China has pledged to continue supporting the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to flatten the curve by sharing their experience of best practices in containing the virus and sending more crucial equipment and gear needed by front line workers.